The voice of and for USM students




USM installs new barriers in 4th Street Parking Garage

Sarah Grace Meyn

A student’s campaign to create safety barriers in the 4th Street Parking Garage succeeded.
Last semester, a student fell to his death from the top floor of the parking garage. The event sparked a conversation about student safety and mental health services on campus.
Senior Sarah Boone felt inspired to act after learning about the incident and hearing about similar incidents years prior at the same parking garage. The same night as the death, she started a petition calling on the university to construct a barrier on the top floor of the parking garage. Weeks later, she held a candlelight vigil where she collected students’ ideas for campus safety and shared them with the Student Government Association.
Boone’s petition reached over 2,700 signatures, forcing a response from the SGA. The SGA released a resolution echoing the call for the administration to construct the barrier and suicide prevention signs.
In an email on the first day of school, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Dr. Kristi Motter announced the new safety measures. There is fencing around the exterior of the fourth floor. The fifth floor is closed off entirely, by both stairs and elevator. Suicide awareness signs are inside and outside of the parking garage.
In addition, Student Counseling Services partnered with ProtoCall to support USM’s crisis hotline, (601) 266-4829.
“These modifications serve as an interim solution to a multi-phase approach to enhance student safety,” Motter explained. “Additional measures will be taken as allowable.”
Jonathan Jenkins, president of SGA, gave a statement to SM2, writing “This initiative is part of a broader commitment to make Southern Miss a safer campus, which includes improving mental health and student support services and ensuring the safety of other areas on campus.”
Boone learned that the fencing went up about two weeks ago, before Motter’s announcement came out. She acknowledges that the fencing won’t be enough to stop all accidents on campus, but believes it will lower deaths at that particular parking garage. She also hopes that Student Counseling Services and the Center for Behavioral Health will get more resources.
Boone hopes that the fencing will be part of a larger effort to improve student’s wellbeing.
“I can imagine that just even erecting some barriers on the parking garage will be costly, and I know that there are some funding issues in general with USM,” she said. “But I do really do hope that this is them seeing issues within the student population that need to be addressed, and I’m glad that they are actually taking some starting steps.”
The school will consider changes if there are too many problems with parking, which several students already have. They complained that blocking off the fifth floor limited parking on a campus infamous for its parking issues.
Senior Aiden Liese typically parks on the first floor, but understands how losing the fifth floor can be inconvenient for some. As for the barriers, he thinks they’re safer but suggested some changes.
“I hope they put up a barrier around the edge of the fifth floor and reopen it, but I see falls from the lower floors as less likely and I wouldn’t think anyone seeking to harm themselves would consider the third floor a ‘safe’ option,” he said.
This is not the first time someone passed away after falling from the parking garage. A similar death occurred in 2021.
Student Counseling Services is open to walk-ins for mental health crises every weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After hours, students can call (601) 266-4829 and choose option one (1). They can also call or text 988 for the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline.

Leave a Comment
Donate to SM2

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Southern Mississipi. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to SM2

Comments (0)

All Southern Miss Student Media Center Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *