By Jonathan Fowlie
Ryerson’s security force may be in for some big changes this year as Julia Lewis, director of the campus Center of Environmental Health and Safety, has taken on the job of revamping the way it does business.
On June 30, Lewis was named the new head of the security department for one year and was asked to conduct a comprehensive review of all of the policies and procedures of the security department.
“I have two objectives,” said Lewis when recently asked about her new role.
“The first one is to actually review the entire security operations from a strategic and policy perspective … the second one is to see if along the way there are any synergies with the environmental health and safety functions here at Ryerson; to see if there are any opportunities through that for structuring things a little differently.”
Lewis said the main idea behind both objectives is to develop a plan that can better address all the risks and dangers facing everyone on campus.
“Risk is risk,” said Lewis, “whatever the source.”
The Center of Environmental Health and Safety, which Lewis still runs, looks at all possible risks people may face while in their daily routine on the campus.
For instance, her department will assess the equipment and procedures in all lab classes to reduce the chance of injury to any faculty member, staff or student while handling the potentially dangerous lab equipment.
By making Lewis the new head of security, the university is now looking to take a new approach to security and safety by integrating the two departments as much as possible.
“Both [health and safety and security] have campus-wide responsibilities,” said Linda Grayson, vice-president administration and student affairs, who appointed Lewis to the new position.
“Both of them are concerned with the safety of faculty, staff and students.
So there are potentially a lot of benefits [in bringing them closer together] and what we’re doing in this next year is exploring what those benefits are and how we might capitalize on the opportunities before us.”
Lewis was clear to point out, however, that this does not mean the two departments will necessarily be merged together in the years to come.
“There is no expectation as to an outcome,” she said. “It’s not predetermined.”
When asked what she has planned for the security department, or how this might affect students, Lewis said she was still talking to people within security and across the campus to determine what changes are necessary and how they should be made.
“I’ve been given the full scope,” she said. “It’s to be quite comprehensive and at this stage I have not yet identified the benchmarks.”
When asked what he thought of the appointment, Lawrence Robinson, the manager of Ryerson Security declined to comment.
“I advice you that [Lewis] would be the best source to talk about Julia Lewis,” he said when asked about the appointment.
Ryerson’s president, Claude Lajeunesse, said he was very pleased with the appointment.
“Julia Lewis is a very dedicated, devoted employee. I want her to bring her dedication and her strength to making sure that we enhance the quality of [security].”
“If you have a better, more up to date, more modern and more efficient way of providing safety and security throughout the campus, that’s great for students,” he said.
According to Lewis and Grayson, Ryerson is the first university in Ontario to look at bringing the health and safety and security departments closer together.
“This is quite an innovative approach,” said Lewis. ‘It’s going to be an interesting journey.”