FSU’s Borkovich says DPS met challenges in 2018-19

Ferris State University’s Department of Public Safety has continuously sought ways to streamline the parking system on the campus in Big Rapids to make it more user-friendly. (Pioneer photo/Brandon Fountain)

BIG RAPIDS — With Ferris State University’s commencement ceremonies concluded, the academic year is drawing to a close.

With a little more than 10,000 students on campus in Big Rapids this spring, FSU Department of Public Safety Director (DPS) Bruce Borkovich and his department were confronted with new challenges.

New challenges present themselves every year, Borkovich explained, but one swept into the forefront was the approval of the ballot proposal for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the November 2018 election.

BORKOVICH

“Even though it was legalized under state law, use and possession still is illegal under federal law,” he said.

As a Title IV university, Borkovich explained the university accepts money from the federal government in the form of student loans. Therefore, the university is obligated to comply with federal law, more specifically the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.

“We’re required to make sure we have things in place to prohibit drug use or possession on campus,” he said. “One of the things we did this year is meet with our housing staff, who have expressed concerns that the residents halls don’t become a place where marijuana becomes commonplace. That’s something we understand.”

Efforts to comply with federal laws, Borkovich said, meant an aggressive approach to enforcing minors in possession of marijuana on campus, citing offenders with civil infractions.

“Any marijuana use or possession on campus is pretty aggressively dealt with,” he said. “We are holding (offenders) accountable.”

While the ballot proposal passed and there are those who support or partake in marijuana use, Borkovich said there are people who don’t want to be around the psychoactive drug.

“We find in many cases students don’t want to be around it and don’t want to smell it, especially in places where they live,” he said. “We get a lot of complaints and investigate and take action.”

Borkovich and the department also are trying to streamline the parking system on campus.

“We are always looking at ways to make it more user-friendly,” he said. “One of the things we did this past year, was the university increased the number of critical parking spaces and gave more preferred parking spaces.”

One change implemented, Borkovich said, is relaxed summer enforcement.

“Because there are a lot of parking spaces in the summer, we don’t enforce it as strenuously,” he said. “You do not need a permit if you are a student or guest. Parking is open at the meters, but you don’t pay the meters.

“We still are enforcing the handicap spaces and fire lanes. We do that year-round.”

During the summer, Ferris State University’s Department of Public Safety does not enforce several parking pass policies, as there are many parking spots open for students and guests. (Pioneer photo/Brandon Fountain)

Progress also has been made in another area: Active shooter or active attack training.

“We’re getting more training on campus, and doing that in several ways,” he said.

FSU DPS provides training to every new Ferris employee and requests from faculty and staff groups’ requests.

“We also figured out a way to get the active shooter/active attack training to all incoming freshmen,” Borkovich said. “There’s a required freshman class called FSUS; our instructors have been really good about getting us in to do the presentations, which teach our students what to do and how to react in the event there is one of those happening on campus.

“We’ve really increased the exposure and training for staff and faculty for prevention.”

In the weeks and months ahead, Borkovich and his staff will continue to look at other safety policies and procedures in place, as well as look at ways to improve those for students, staff and faculty.

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Posted by Brandon Fountain

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