by Paul Morales —

Many parents have questions about the safety of a campus when touring colleges on their child's "favorite list." As a veteran of nearly two decades with the Trinity University Police Department, I’d like to share some questions that parents should ask when evaluating the safety of a university campus.

Does the university offer 24-hour dispatch services?

At Trinity University, a dispatcher is available 24/7, 365 days a year. The department’s communications officers are State licensed and Certified. All officers must complete the required hours of training each year to maintain their license. TUPD Communications consists of four officers and one supervisor.

Does the university hire certified peace officers?

The Trinity University Police Department consists of 18 full-time Texas Certified Police Officers and three part time Certified Police Officers. The department has several divisions to include Investigations, Training, Crime Prevention/Community Awareness, and Communications.

What type of alert systems are in place in case of bad weather or in the event of a crisis?

Trinity University is equipped with an Emergency Notification System with large speakers that are placed on different rooftop locations throughout upper and lower campus. These speakers will notify university members who are not inside of a building when a critical event occurs. TUPD Communications division is responsible for these emergency messages.

TrinAlert is a notification system that we recommend the Trinity community register for on their personal phones. This will notify them of a critical event on or near campus via text message. TUPD Communications division is also responsible for initiating these emergency messages to the community.

The VoIP notification system is a feature that all university telephones are equipped with to include all academic buildings and residence halls. This system will directly send a voice message and instructions for safety to every university phone on campus. TUPD Communications division is also responsible for these emergency messages.

Will officers escort students to residence halls after hours or at night?

Trinity’s officers do escort students to their residence halls after hours and throughout the night by vehicle or golf cart. The student simply needs to contact TUPD at 210-999-7070 (non-emergency) and request an escort. TUPD has an escort program called “Tiger Tracks.”

A Trinity University police officer visits with a student during the health and wellness fair.
How do police officers get to know the students?

TUPD Crime Prevention/Community Awareness division initiates community events that focus on the personal safety of students on and off campus. These events include Alcohol Awareness, Sexual Assault Awareness, Stalking Awareness, National Campus Safety Month, and Texas/National Night Out, to name a few. By having these types of events throughout campus, TUPD makes great contacts with Trinity students. We are also known for our tasty “Cop Corn” that we make and provide for our students, which allows us the opportunity for one-on-one engagement. Who doesn't like popcorn? TUPD is also invited by many Trinity departments to participate in their events. We also initiated the “Coffee with the Cops” events which gives the students and the entire community the opportunity to engage with police officers and discuss areas of concerns or just enjoy cup of coffee together. Throughout the semester, TUPD engages with the community at least 25 times through different events.

Should students have ready access to the campus police department’s phone number?

At Trinity, students are strongly encouraged to input 210-999-7070 (non-emergency) and 210-999-7000 (emergency) into their cell phones to call in the event of an emergency.

Are there other safety-through-technology programs for students?

Trinity also encourages students to download the Trinity University ELERTS Safety Phone Application, a FREE phone application that includes:

* Providing students with virtual security escorts at any time.
* Allowing students to initiate a police report discreetly using text messages in real time.
* Making possible real-time, two way chats that allow TUPD to interact with students in real time.

Trinity University Officer Paul Morales shares a safety tip with a student.
Is it important for students to read the University's police website?

Yes, there is very important information on the TUPD website that includes an introduction of the department, Parking Services, Emergency Procedures, Crime Statistics, Additional Services and so much more.

About Paul

Corporal Paul Morales has been with the Trinity University Police Department for 19 years and is currently assigned to the Community Awareness Division, where he enjoys being able to engage with students about preventative and personal safety issues. A proud member of the Trinity community, his son is a sophomore at Trinity. Paul adds, “A great part of my job is being able to be there for the students when they need my assistance. I feel that I have a passion for keeping up and being part of our learning environment.”

by Dawn Stephens –

Music has always been an integral part of my son Daniel's life. Be it singing with one group or another, strumming his guitar to relax, or sitting at the piano composing, music is where he feels most comfortable and able to be himself. So it was no surprise when Daniel declared that he was pursuing a music major in college. To be honest, a scene of him standing on the street corner strumming his guitar with a tin can sitting in front of him did flash through my mind. Would he be able to support himself with a music degree? I was also worried if he could handle the pressure of majoring in music. I had heard horror stories from friends whose children were music majors at a large state university (near our home in Flower Mound, Texas) about all the pressures their children had on them and their inability to handle them. I had many long nights worrying about if Daniel could handle it or not.

I am glad to say that my worries were for naught. From the moment Daniel stepped on Trinity University's campus as a prospective student, his passion for music has been fed and encouraged. It hasn't been easy for him (I don't think there is one degree at Trinity that could be defined as "easy") but Daniel has been given so many opportunities to grow and develop that I know he is in the right place.

Trinity has so many opportunities for music majors. Daniel has sung with the Trinity Chamber Singers since he was a first-year student. They have performed in many venues in San Antonio, they were a featured choir at the annual Texas Music Educators Association convention in 2015, and last spring they toured from Seattle to San Diego. The range of music these talented young people perform is amazing. He is a founding member of "Overheard," a jazz acapella group that sings throughout campus. Daniel is the student assistant for the Trinity Hand Bell Choir. This past December, they performed with the San Antonio Symphony at their Christmas concert. Daniel has also been a part of the Trinity operas, and last summer he traveled with other Trinity students and professors to Beijing, China, to participate in a month-long opera workshop with students from across the United States, China, and Taiwan.

Majoring in music means practice, practice, practice!
While Daniel has loved performing, he would tell you that, as a choral music education major who hopes to one day direct a high school choir of his own, the opportunities in the classroom have been just as important to his development. Trinity has been named an All-Steinway school, allowing every piano student the opportunity to practice and perform on the best instrument in the world. His weekly private voice and piano lessons are led by professors who challenge and encourage him. The small sizes of his music and education classes have allowed him to develop deep relationships with his professors who challenge him to go outside his comfort zone and to do his best. With a broad curriculum, Trinity requires students to not only focus on their area of interest, but to take classes from all of the academic areas to be a well rounded person. These classes have forced him out of his comfort zone to explore and learn new things. He has learned to question and investigate many interesting subjects.

Trinity has also allowed Daniel to explore outside the classroom and the music department. Among the many events in which he has participated, he has enjoyed Bible studies, the weekly chapel services, and has recently become involved in fencing, which let him meet friends who enjoy this unique activity as much as he does.

Daniel has matured during his time at Trinity as both a musician and a person. Each new experience inside and outside the classroom expands his world. That "tin can" scene does pop up in my head from time to time, but I am confident that when Daniel completes a five-year program in which he will receive both a Bachelor's of Music and a Master of Arts in Teaching, he will be ready to support himself and make a positive contribution to the world with his music.

Trinity music student Daniel Stephens with his mom, Dawn Stephens.

About Dawn

Dawn Stephens has been married 27 years to her husband, Millard. A native Texan, Dawn is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has lived in Flower Mound, Texas, for 25 years, where she is a substitute teacher and active in her church. When she is not attending one of her son Daniel’s many performances, she likes to travel and read.
Bid day at Trinity University with sororities

by Marilyn McCullough —

As a parent, when your child tells you they are thinking about joining a fraternity or sorority a wave of emotion will strike. For some it will be the "Oh, no!" moment you’ve been dreading. For others, it may be elation as you recall your personal experiences being in a Greek organization. And for the rest, it may be a simple shoulder shrug and change of conversation. This, of course, is under the assumption you’ve been told about this decision before it happens.

Hugs on bid day at Trinity University
Bid Day is a season for hugs.
A defining choice

Regardless of your opinion of Greek organizations, I am here to tell you that it is a defining choice in your child’s college experience. For my daughter, it was one of the best decisions she made at Trinity University. So before you’re overcome with the urge to put the kibosh on the idea of fraternity and sorority life, talk to your son or daughter and read up about Greek life at Trinity. With local organizations instead of national, there is definitely a different feel and common bond.

There are also some unique and inspiring opportunities that your child will be exposed to such as The Body Project, which is a program that discusses the pressures our society currently puts on young women and men to achieve an unattainable, culturally idealistic body figure, and how we as students can resist these pressures, adopt a healthy lifestyle, and feel comfortable in our own skin. In addition, this Project provides new sorority and fraternity members with the chance to learn how to feel more positively about their bodies. There is a focus at Trinity on being engaged on campus and in the community. So, no. It isn’t all about beer pong and shenanigans.
Bid day at Trinity University with fraternity

Fraternity members enjoy Bid Day at Trinity University near Miller Fountain. 

Should I be concerned?

Time management and focus are likely concerns for a parent. No one wants to picture their tuition dollars fueling theme parties instead of study hours. There are certainly horror stories of alcohol abuse, faltering academics, or worse, but as a parent I just hoped I taught my daughter to make good choices and could support her decisions. I won’t tell you not to worry or that Greek life is for everyone, but, I will tell you that when my daughter joined a sorority, Sigma Theta Tau, it strengthened what I believe will be lifelong friendships with amazing men and women.

Trinity’s Fraternity & Sorority Life page notes, “Greek Life at Trinity University serves as a home-away-from-home for about 24 percent of the undergraduate student population. Being in a fraternity or sorority at Trinity provides opportunities for leadership development, alumni networking, service to the Trinity and San Antonio communities, and creating lifelong friendships.”

This was absolutely true for my daughter and her friends.
Happy sorority members on bid day at Trinity University
More hugs on Bid Day at Trinity University
My advice?
Be cautious. Communicate your concerns. Be supportive. Have faith in your son or daughter’s ability to make good choices. In case you’re interested, here are some photos from Bid Day (the day when new members join the various Greek organizations).

About Marilyn

Marilyn McCullough, an Arizona resident by way of New York, is a docent at Ft. Tuthill Military Museum and retired teacher. She sent two children to Trinity, one of whom "went Greek."

by Fran Wahl —

The job of all parents is to help create productive, independent adults. We have been working toward this time for roughly 18 years, hoping and praying we've given you everything you need to be successful. We simultaneously love and hate that our children are ready to launch. Here are a few thoughts as they prepare to depart for their new life in college. If you are one of these parents, feel free to share these thoughts with your soon-to-be college student or maybe even one who has a semester or two on a transcript. And tell your student that if he or she was fortunate enough to have parents who could verbalize between bouts of tears, it couldn't hurt to hear them again.

Texts and emails are just ok....

But a phone call or Skype is the best. Hearing your voice, while learning about your professors, roommates or class lectures is like heaven! Stick to the facts, don't complain, and keep it as short as you need to make it count as a conversation. We are here for you, we know a few things. Lean on us. If you need to mark it in your planner so you don't forget, do it! Call us!

Don't just write on my Facebook wall.

While we're on the subject of phone calls, did you get that money I sent you?

A thank you communication is a must. Did you notice I paid your tuition this semester? Ditto!

We parents enjoy being thanked and appreciated. We may say "it's ok" but really, deep down, we want to know you are grateful for what you've been given. Wait, you say you are paying your tuition with student loans? Remember that simply the foundation of your K-12 education and roof over your head got you where you are today. Say thank you! And if you are fortunate enough to have most or all of the bill "footed" by your hardworking parents? It goes without saying that cartwheels of thanks are in order! Call us!

We would love it if some of our family's life lessons and traditions stuck with you.

If your family goes to church, temple, chapel or mosque, try to maintain at least some of that spirituality in your new life. Trinity and San Antonio offer a whole host of alternatives for spiritual growth and renewal, so take advantage of what you see around you. You would be surprised at how grounded you will feel by reconnecting to your roots. Yes, it can be intimidating that first time, but who knows? Maybe that nice girl from biology will be sitting across the aisle from you at mass. Now you have a partner to invite next week. Stranger things have happened. Call us and tell us about it after your adventure.

The interior of Trinity University's Parker Chapel.

Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll

This is a tricky one, but here's a secret you may not know about us parents. We were all where you are once. We may not have all been in a university setting, but we all found ourselves newly independent with new decisions to make. And ALL of us have made mistakes and done a few things we regretted later. We may have lost a few brain cells, but quite frankly, the majority of them were fully intact until sometime in the mid nineties (check your birth certificate to understand this reference). But we do remember!

Know this: mistakes happen, and we are here to help. Are you sitting in class Monday morning with a slight headache and a twinge of regret about the weekend's shenanigans? Maybe we don't' need to hear about it. Are you barely awake on Monday with little recollection of your weekend's activities, realizing your first two classes of the week have long been over? Then it might be time for a conversation. Come clean before grades come out, or before we find out through some other means that this may not be the best time or place for experimenting with new independence. These things have a way of working out, but not without the intervention of those who know and love you best. And that, my friend, is your parents. So, you guessed the next line. Call us.

LeeRoy the tiger mascot practices yoga.

Your absence will be noticed

Over the last 18 years you have been, at times literally, an appendage attached to us. Having you go off to college is a little like losing a body joke! Just twist off my right arm! Whether you are the first or last to leave, heading across town or across the country, your departure drastically and irreparably changes the family dynamic. Neither our lives nor your lives will ever be the same, but that's ok. Your independence is a big check mark in the win column for dear 'ole Mom and Dad. Please just remember that we have feelings too. We like to be treated with kindness and respect. And we like the occasional phone call. 

About Fran

Having turned the term "domestic engineer" into a full time profession, Fran Wahl has experienced sending two of three children off to Universities. She frequently lobbies to have one of them choose real engineering as a major. In her spare time she volunteers in the local schools, and works as a substitute teacher. She also enjoys talking on her phone.