Educating, encouraging safety on campus

Ambassador program created as part of pandemic response measures

Tyler Burkhardt
Mercury Staff

The Office of Facilities and Economic Development has repurposed its student staff to serve as Student Safety Ambassadors while on campus.

The OFED has re-trained its pre-existing student workers in proper pandemic protocols, including how to educate others. This provides them the versatility to also serve as student-educators at a time when the OFED is unable to host as many campus events, said OFED Director of Administration and Operations Dee Lambert.

“The goal of the program is to utilize current students to educate and inform the UT Dallas community, faculty, staff and guests on campus about best health and safety practices with the goal of helping limit the transmission of COVID-19 on campus,” Lambert said.

Created over the summer and working in tandem with the Office of Parking and Transportation, the Student Safety Ambassador program is UTD’s ongoing effort to be proactive in its pandemic response, Lambert said. Quarantining, contact tracing and sanitation are all fairly reactionary processes, and while they’re critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19 around campus, they do little to prevent UTD students from contracting the virus in the first place. 

“We wanted to ensure that we could properly equip the UTD community with accurate information in the hopes that they would employ it to take an active role in their safety and in the safety of everyone on campus,” Lambert said.

Students on campus can observe the work of the Student Safety Ambassadors through a number of initiatives, such as the distribution of masks to students and the posting of informational signage and brochures around campus.

The Mercury was unable to get in touch with any current Ambassadors. Lambert said in an email to The Mercury that the OFED wants to protect the identity of its ambassadors.

“These students have unfortunately been threatened at times and subjected to less than pleasant interactions from non-compliant students,” the email said. “By having a student named in [the] article, angry or annoyed students could look them up and try to engage them in unsafe manners.”

Ambassadors continue to maintain an active presence on campus, Lambert said, by monitoring heavily trafficked areas of campus and encouraging Comets to wear masks and follow protocols while at UTD. She also stated that the Student Safety Ambassadors are expected to continue serving in these capacities for as long as the pandemic remains a concern.

“We will have additional students returning to campus in the spring who weren’t there in the fall, giving us the opportunity to start the process all over again,” Lambert said. “That gives us an opportunity for us to continue helping students integrate into campus life, and we’re excited to help them understand their part in helping UT Dallas maintain a healthy environment.”