Written by Michael Baquet
This semester I’m working as a Campus Safety Intern at St. Edward’s University. In this position I am responsible for a number of tasks including: the reintroduction of an operational weather station on campus, assisting in projects around the office, and providing feedback and a student perspective on campus safety policy. Some examples of these activities are communicating with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to inspect, repair, and install the necessary equipment needed to get the weather station on campus to its intended operational capacity. Other examples include reviewing the Topper Safe app and listening to student concerns to include additional information within the app such as the phone numbers of each RA on call for resident buildings. On a day to day basis, I usually work in the Operations Building located on campus, but occasionally there will be responsibilities outside the office such as the weather station which is located in front of the Carter Auditorium next to the Ozone Garden.
While I truly enjoy all of my responsibilities in this internship, reestablishing the weather station is my main priority. This is due to the severity that weather related events can have on campus operations. The most recent example of why this is would be the unexpected rainstorm on September 7, 2022 which led to a campus wide power outage and other power outages in the Austin area. The ability to monitor weather conditions in the area to make an accurate weather forecast for campus as well as collect data on the amount of rainfall amounts, temperature, wind speed, and other weather variables specifically here on campus would have been very beneficial to helping Campus Safety better prepare students for these sorts of events. Another example of when a weather station would have been beneficial for campus would have also been during Winter Storm Uri in 2021. While there are numerous weather outlets that provide forecasts, such as the Weather App on iPhones, the ability to collect and share local weather data on campus will provide more precise weather data on campus and allow campus safety to be better prepared and responsive to specific weather emergencies that might occur such as the potential for falling tree branches or downhill flooding which our campus is more at risk of.
The biggest surprise about working as a Campus Safety Intern is how much it relates to previous research I’ve conducted with the McNair Scholars Program as well as my future in graduate school. Over the past summer, I was able to conduct research on the aspects that complicate hurricane evacuations in New Orleans and I intend to continue to conduct research on weather related emergency evacuations in graduate school. My experience in this internship has allowed me to have the confidence of knowing that I want to continue to research and other work related to weather safety and weather related emergencies in particular. Moving forward into graduate school, I plan to expand my research into topics such the effects of weather reports on emergency evacuations which will focus on the way in which evacuations are more or less likely due to the words, graphs, and other methods used to relay information to the public.