UW-Madison Safety Reminders & Resources for Students

A joint message from UWPD Chief Kristen Roman and Dean of Students Christina Olstad

August 26, 2020

UW-Madison Students,

First off, welcome to campus! We’re glad you’re here, and we look forward to a safe and successful school year.

This “welcome,” however, is unlike any we’ve seen before. In the midst of COVID 19 and a healthy and safe return to campus, you’ve arrived to sights of protests and unrest – primarily around the Capitol Square and in the State Street area of downtown Madison – in reaction to the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police. Most protesters have been peaceful, particularly during the day, but as the protests have continued late into the night, some individuals have engaged in property damage, including setting dumpsters on fire and breaking windows. At this point, no significant injuries have occurred, but we are concerned this could change or that campus or city curfews could be put in place if the situation escalates as it has in other places.

We know our students are excited to be on campus and may be out exploring this week or engaging in their right to protest. In addition to the Badger Pledge expectations we have for our students, we encourage you to be aware of your surroundings this weekend – know where you are; who you are with; and how to get help if you need it. We support your right to protest and engage in free speech in a safe and lawful manner.

To date, campus has not been the focus of protests, but we are aware of their close proximity to our students both on and off-campus. We’ve been in close contact with city officials as these events have unfolded and remain committed to ensuring First Amendment rights are protected while safety remains a top priority.

While we have your attention, we wanted to take a moment to outline a number of safety tools available to you:

  • WiscAlerts – The university maintains an emergency alert system called WiscAlerts, which is designed to provide information about an active emergency situation ON campus that requires the community to take immediate action in order to stay safe. Every student is automatically enrolled in WiscAlerts via email and text message. Students can add a second cell phone number (which could be a parent’s) to their profile – visit the WiscAlert portal to make that change.
  • Off-Campus Alerts – An extension of our WiscAlert system, Off-Campus Alerts will let our community know about significant and imminent threats in certain areas OFF campus where a large number of our students live or frequently visit. Students need to sign up to receive Off-Campus Alerts. You can sign up for Off-Campus Alerts through the WiscAlert portal.
  • WiscGuardian – A free mobile safety app, WiscGuardian, is available for students to download. The app allows for easy emergency and non-emergency communication and for friends and family to virtually “walk” with students on and off-campus. Search for “Rave Guardian” on your phone’s app store, download the App, and sign-in using your wisc.edu email address.
  • SAFEwalk – SAFEwalkers in teams of two can accompany a student throughout campus and nearby locations while following all public health safety guidelines. They can be reached by phone or text at (608) 262-5000, seven days a week, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
  • UWPD Downtown Community Officer – Our new UWPD Downtown Liaison Communiuty Officer, Diego Lema Hernandez, is a direct resource for our off-campus students and works closely on issues and incidents that affect them. He helps maintain close communications and coordination with the City of Madison for related off-campus issues or concerns.
  • Amnesty Through Responsible Action – If you or someone you know are incapacitated due to alcohol or other drugs, you can call for medical assistance without fear of getting yourself or the person who needs help in trouble with police or Student Conduct. Learn more about our Amnesty Through Responsible Actions guidelines – providing police and student conduct amnesty for those who need medical assistance, and those who call for medical assistance.

We are here for you, and remember, we’re in this together. Please do your part to keep our campus and community safe and welcoming for everyone. As always, you can reach out to the Dean of Students Office or the UW-Madison Police Department if you have questions or concerns.

Chief Kristen Roman
UW-Madison Police Department

Christina Olstad
Dean of Students