August 27, 2021

Student-led project upgrades campus incident reporting

Workshop helps prepare faculty for promotion and tenure

A student request has expanded access to and the functionality of UNL Report, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s incident reporting system.

Mirroring the previous TIPS service, UNL Report allows users to submit details regarding on campus incidents (with contact information or anonymously) about matters ranging from inappropriate behavior to acts of kindness. The new system is more robust than TIPS and is an option within the Nebraska app. Along with being able to submit incident reports, it includes direct links to contact first responders (including the University Police Department) and mental health professionals.

“This has truly been a student driven project,” said Jordan Malone, project manager with Business and Finance. “It came about because Emma Sidel wasn’t shy to reach out and discuss her idea with a vice chancellor. Her voice led to this new system that better meets the needs of our entire campus community.”

Mug shot of Emma Sidel

Sidel, now a senior forensic science major, based the idea on SafeUT, a crisis reporting and counseling app offered to students, parents and guardians in her Utah school system.

“It was a wonderful idea and something I used several times,” Sidel said. “When I came to Nebraska, I hoped there was something similar. A search led to TIPS, but it didn’t offer the same functionality and no one really knew that it existed.

“That’s when I decided we needed to do something better for our community.”

Sidel initiated the project in her sophomore year while serving on the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska’s Campus Life and Safety Committee. She presented the concept of the app to Bill Nunez, vice chancellor of Business and Finance, and his team that same year.

“Vice Chancellor Nunez and his office were so welcoming and excited about making this happen,” Sidel said. “It was a tremendous experience — one that exposed me to the positive culture that exists here at Nebraska and how everybody is trying to make UNL a better place for students, faculty and staff.”

Malone and the Business and Finance team worked with Information Technology Services to develop the final UNL Report system. The work was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but UNL Report launched in part during the summer and fully with the start of the fall semester.

“Based on number of reports we’re seeing at the start of this semester, this update is most certainly being noticed by the campus community,” Malone said.

Sidel hopes the successful development and launch of UNL Report inspires more student-led ideas to improve the university.

“It’s a little cliché, but this project has made me feel more at home as a Husker,” Sidel said. “It makes me feel like the things we do on this campus can be recognized by university leaders — that any small idea can turn into something a lot bigger and change things for the better.”

Students, faculty and staff can access UNL Report via the Nebraska app (available for iOS and Android devices), in the footer of any university website (look for and click “UNL Report”), or on its dedicated webpage.