Public Safety Advisory Committee survey findings

Dear Ithaca campus community,

In February, Cornell’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) invited Ithaca campus students, faculty and staff to participate in a confidential, secure email survey to capture our community’s perspectives and experiences related to police practices and procedures on campus. PSAC members, comprising students, faculty and staff, initiated the survey as part of ongoing efforts, begun last summer at the direction of President Martha Pollack, to examine campus security and safety now and in the future.

Conducted by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning in close consultation with PSAC members, the survey was distributed to nearly 35,000 Ithaca campus students, faculty and staff during a two-week period. Overall, the response rate was 22%; of those respondents, 38% were staff members, 14% were faculty members and 48% were students. The survey focused on the nature of any recent interactions by respondents with the Cornell University Police Department (CUPD), perceived importance of a wide range of police functions – from investigation of serious crimes to community policing initiatives – as well as one’s feelings of personal safety around armed police officers on and off campus and the role of police in personal safety checks. It also included open-ended questions seeking respondents’ overall impressions of CUPD, including a future vision for campus police.

The findings, which are available in a report on the PSAC website, provide valuable insights into our campus community’s experiences and beliefs with respect to policing on campus and in society more generally. You can also read more about the results in this Cornell Chronicle article.

As a follow-up to the survey, more than 1,000 respondents expressed interest in participating in focus groups to allow for more nuanced discussion of these important issues. Those began in March and will continue throughout this month. For respondents who could not attend a focus group, the PSAC is also planning a virtual forum in early May to elicit further thoughts and feedback. The committee’s final report and recommendations will be delivered to President Pollack at the end of the spring semester.

Our community’s responses have helped the PSAC to better understand the many complexities involved with the role of police in our community – one that is a matter of debate not just on our campus, but across campuses and localities nationwide. We appreciate the willingness of students, faculty and staff to share their views on these issues.


Joanne DeStefano, PSAC Chair
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer