The University of Houston (UH) recently took home a Crystal Award from the Houston Chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) for its campus-wide communications program, CougarSAFE: Safety, Awareness, Friendship and Education. The program, which highlights safety tips and resources for students, earned top honors from AMA Houston in the internal communications program- nonprofit category.
The CougarSAFE communications program was developed through a partnership between the University’s Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services and Division of Marketing, Communication and Media Relations and in coordination with the UH Police Department. Through various communications channels, such as print, web, video, social media and email, CougarSAFE educates students about current and future safety programs, encourages crime prevention and empowers people to play an active role in their safety. CougarSAFE messages have included topics such as spring break safety tips, UH security escort services, cell phone safety and emergency contact information.
“CougarSAFE has been a great way to get students involved in their own safety and security by making them aware of the programs available and offering practical, timely tips,” said Richard Walker, vice president for student affairs and enrollment services. “As the number of on-campus residents continues to grow, it becomes even more important that we all watch out for ourselves and each other.”
The CougarSAFE program was judged by marketing professionals from companies and AMA chapters across the country. The awareness campaign is one component of a larger, overall strategic plan addressing campus safety.
“University campuses are historically much safer communities than similarly situated cities and towns, and the University of Houston is no different,” said Lt. Bret Collier, UHPD chief of staff. “We continually evaluate the types of crime that are affecting our community, and adjust our patrol and investigation methods to address those issues. Also, we have seen a dramatic change in campus geography and population over the past five years, which changes the way we have to look at statistics over that period. As the residential population has increased, so have our policing and security efforts.”
UHPD has grown its force to 52 commissioned police officers, 110 security officers and over 1,200 cameras across campus. Collier says several factors need to be present for crime to occur, and opportunity is one of them.
“UHPD works to reduce the opportunity for crime on campus through proactive patrol, elimination of security deficiencies and community awareness initiatives such as safety presentations, crime alerts and security escorts,” said Collier. “Statistically speaking, the University remains as safe and secure as most areas of Houston and safer than many.”