Security: our present and future

We cannot predict acts of violence; we can only allow ourselves the best preparation.

The bomb threat on the East Bank campus last Wednesday, two days following the violence at Virginia Tech, has left the University community with its own feelings of uncertainty about safety. Colleges and universities across the nation are questioning their own preparedness for unexpected violence or threats. This leaves us looking at our present and future security position.

At the University, we have a Department of Emergency Management whose employees understand that using one method for notifying the University community of an emergency situation will not always be successful. Therefore, it lists a series of procedure options that might be used during a threat.

A fire alarm is the most familiar method to students. It calls for an immediate evacuation of a building. The DEM might use a fire alarm to indicate evacuation for other reasons. Radios that can broadcast messages throughout University departments are available from the DEM. Higher University officials share a pager system from which they get alert messages from the University Police Department. The DEM also states that e-mail and even word of mouth are essential reaction tools to an emergency. All emergency situations will be listed on OneStop.

The University Department of Safety also offers a reporting service that allows anyone to unanimously report suspicious behavior to University security and UMPD with UREPORT. However, in any instance that might be immediately threatening, call 911.

Last week’s bomb threat at the University and the shootings at Virginia Tech brought light to the problem that e-mail notification does not reach enough people fast enough in emergencies. In the future, we see intercom systems and heightened security surveillance being key contributors to campus safety, both here and across the nation.

The best way to protect ourselves is to have a common goal of awareness and communication. We cannot predict random acts of violence; we can only allow ourselves the best preparation for dealing with them.