Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Fear of the Known - and Unknown

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Fear of the Known - and Unknown

Article excerpt

Just three days before the campus shootings at Northern Illinois University last month, I sat in the morning plenary session at the annual American Council on Education meeting titled "Campus security, Response and Recovery." Judging by the number of people that attended the session and the Q&A that followed, campus security post Virginia Tech - and now NIU-is a very real concern among university officials.

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, who was a panelist, says his university has a new threat assessment team and that he now meets with every campus police officer that VT hires. These are just two of the steps the university has taken since that tragic day in April last year.

But now another campus mourns the loss of members of its community. Young lives taken too soon in a violent, senseless act Students sitting in a lecture hall, where they should be. Campus officials are having to come to terms with the fact that members of their own community - students, faculty and staff- may pose the biggest threat How do colleges and universities assess that threat and how do they best protect and alert their campus communities?

This is our annual technology special report, and before the NIU shootings, Diverse correspondent Peter Galuszka was scheduled to report on the growing business of electronic notification companies. Unfortunately, the recent events at NIU again highlight the need and use of this new technology.

At the ACE panel, Princeton University's police chief Steven J. Healy said that campus officials shouldn't think that a text message system will solve all the problems in the case of an emergency. The text message alerts must be accurate, useful and timely to be helpful, he said, adding that only 30 percent of a university community typically sign up for such alerts, a point also made in Peter's article, "Emergency Notification in an Instant" But said Healy, each time his own campus has had to activate the emergency alert system, campus participation increases. …

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