It’s the last Friday of the month, so today I’ll answer some of your questions. As a reminder, I enjoy reading all of your questions and comments. I’m not able to respond to them all in VC Notes, but I pass the rest along to senior administrators for review and possible action. I view your questions as an important source of feedback that does make a difference and I hope you do, too!
Now, on to your questions.
Q: As much as I appreciate the new crosswalk leading to the stadium, I am confused why a red light and crosswalk were not placed at the intersection just a few feet away. The new light seems to be confusing for drivers and walkers. I have seen several drivers, including a police officer, drive right through the light as people were attempting to cross, or the drivers who do stop may pull up after someone walks across and block the crosswalk. Since the crosswalk is where it is now, can we not at least sync the new crosswalk with the existing crosswalk for walkers at both ends to cross at the same time?
A: The HAWK signal to which you refer was placed at the location near Garage B where large numbers of staff were crossing the street without the protection of a defined crosswalk or a traffic light. To protect pedestrians from cars turning north from campus and from Lower East Stadium Drive, the crosswalk was located a few yards to the north of the intersection. A conventional red light could not be placed there because it was too close to the light farther north on State Street. I agree the way the signal works takes some getting used to for both drivers and pedestrians, but the bottom line is that when the red lights are displayed, drivers should be either stopped or, when flashing, proceeding with extreme caution. And pedestrians should never assume that drivers will see them and/or stop. The HAWK signal is an on-demand traffic light to be deployed on an as-needed basis, so synchronization with the stoplight at the intersection in front of University Hospital would not be warranted. We will check with MDOT to see if additional signage can help lessen confusion. You can learn more about the HAWK signal from this article published in eCV.
Q: My question is about the hiring process during this time. What about the people who interviewed before the hiring freeze started? Shouldn’t those people get a call and be told that at this time we cannot hire for the position? They are waiting to hear about a job for their future. How come the people that applied and interviewed last year and were just waiting have to now wait even longer? Why can’t the jobs that were posted and interviewed for be filled? Any new position posted in 2019 should be subject to the freeze.
A: What we have put in place is not a freeze, but rather a managed hiring process through which each job requisition has to be justified as “mission critical,” with approval by a unit’s senior leadership and the Budget Office. This process has been implemented as one measure in a multifaceted approach to reducing expenditures at UMMC in the second half of FY2019. Managing job requisitions in this disciplined way will result in some situations where they will be approved and result in active recruitment, while others will not be approved at this time. The important work we do through our three mission areas of health care, education and research continues. We are best positioned to serve the needs of our patients and learners by hiring the strongest candidates available, and where the business case has been made to justify the posting of job requisitions and active recruitment, we will continue to do so.
Q: Are there plans to repave the entrance from N. State Street to Veterans Memorial Stadium? There are several large potholes in the road. Drivers are either swerving into oncoming traffic or towards the pedestrian sidewalk to avoid the potholes.
A: Maintaining the streets in the stadium area is the responsibility of Jackson State University. I’m told that our Physical Facilities staff reported the potholes to JSU’s stadium manager two weeks ago. The holes need to be patched with asphalt, and the asphalt plant operates on an intermittent schedule at this time of year when the temperatures approach freezing. In the meantime, at our request and in response to your question, JSU has now filled the potholes with limestone gravel until the asphalt plant reopens and repairs can be made.
Q: I wanted to give blood in the recent drive because there was a great need, but I was out of the country in November and was denied and told that I would not be able to give blood for 12 months. That was very discouraging to me. I have shared this with others and the same question arose that if the blood will be filtered and cycled, if something is wrong with the blood, will it not be detected? I think it's a great loss for the many people who travel out of the country and are not able to give blood for 12 months.
A: Thank you for at least attempting to donate blood. We continue to have a critical shortage, especially for certain blood types, so it’s important that all of us take the opportunity to donate. Regarding your deferral, my understanding is that international travel within the last 12 months does not necessarily disqualify someone from donating. Only travel to certain countries where there is an increased risk to travelers of contracting certain diseases - most notably malaria - requires a one-year deferral. This is a regulation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Even though the risk of disease exposure and transmission may be low, I believe the blood collection agencies act out of an abundance of caution to protect the blood supply.
Q: I feel extremely safe on our UMMC main campus. The recent shooter situation has caused me to question. Do we have actual UMMC police on duty here or only security guards?
A: UMMC has 75 sworn law enforcement officers. They are fully qualified police officers certified through the State of Mississippi to enforce the law and make arrests. We also have 38 security officers. They are unarmed officers without arrest powers who cannot enforce the law. They are responsible for policy enforcement, building security, officer presence and responding to calls for service that do not require a police officer. They assist police officers during emergency calls and report incidents to police for appropriate enforcement. Even though they are not police officers, they represent additional, professionally trained “eyes and ears” throughout the campus. Indeed, the shooting that occurred on State Street in November was first called in to our police dispatch by a security officer.
We are extremely grateful to all the men and women who work around the clock to keep us safe. We have a large, densely populated campus. The more people who take the initiative to “see something, say something”— and that includes everyone who works or attends classes here – the better. Thank you all for your assistance, and for helping us achieve a safer campus and A Healthier Mississippi.