NEW ORLEANS (March 10, 2017) – To the delight and relief of many DU personnel and students alike, the Cook gate hours returned this month to its standard hours for vehicular traffic from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays after four months of being mostly closed.
The change was in full effect Monday, according to Dr. Roland Bullard, vice president for Student Success.
The reason for having the gate closed for most of the day from last November to this month was the need to strategize police staffing, Bullard said.
“We used it as an opportunity to gather information from the campus community about our identity as well as to field concerns from stakeholders about campus safety,” he said.
Bullard said office engagement will be improved, with more foot and bike patrols, more campus educational programs and training, and more regular interaction with students using tools such as social media. He added that plans call for improving camera infrastructure, parking lines, entrance structures, signage and emergency call boxes.
The gate, which typically was open on weekdays from morning to nightfall, was closed temporarily after an incident last Nov. 17 in which a student was assaulted. Police reported the assailants, driving a white Lexus sedan, ignored an officer’s demand to heed and proceeded towards the officer; a single shot was fired before the car exited through the Cook entrance.
For at least part of this semester, the gate has been open for weekday rush-hour traffic, from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and from 4:30-6:30 p.m., but considerable grumbling was heard from people who desired to leave campus midday and had to drive from Cook or the PSB around to the other side of campus to exit through the main gate and come back in the same way.
Zhana Cooley, a mass communication senior from New Orleans, called the closure “pointless and inconsiderate.”
“They’re still letting everyone in without doing any checking” at the main gate, she said shortly before the Cook gate was due to resume standard opening hours. “If they’re not going to do anything differently, they may as well keep both gates open.”
Bullard acknowledged not everyone was happy about the closure, nor can everyone be pleased in every situation. He noted that if every vehicle was stopped for IDs, there’d be “a line of cars down Gentilly Boulevard.”
Bullard added, “There is no way to lock down campus”; rather, the question is, “How do we empower folks to question visitors?”
“The university community really has to take full responsibility…’See something, say something’ has to be the mode of thought,” Bullard said.
Dillard University’s main gate is open 24 hours; from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. identification and vehicle decals are checked. The Cook vehicular gate will be manned during special events.
Bullard asked that if you’re not satisfied with the level of campus police service, email Chief Julian Coaxum (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit him at the station.
(Nakeisha Joiner contributed to this report.)