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Security procedures explained after VT

Kayla Wilson

In the wake of last week’s tragedy at Virginia Tech, campuses around the country have been doing their best to ensure the safety and security of their students.
On Tues., April 17, Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell addressed an e-mail to the Lawrence community in which she explained that there is a crisis plan in place at Lawrence.
However, this email left some students with further questions about the details of such plans.
In the 1990s, a group began writing a crisis plan that divided various Lawrence personnel into different teams, each designated to respond to a different crisis.
“This plan is similar to those in place at other colleges,” explained Truesdell, “and it describes who responds in which situations and with what resources.”
In addition, the plan calls for cooperation with local law enforcement, which would take over the situation.
The plan, which deals with natural disasters, student deaths, fires and any other crisis which may emerge, was tested a few years ago when a big storm knocked down trees, flooded campus, and shut down the power right before finals week.
As last Tuesday’s e-mail stated, this plan was examined by President Jill Beck’s administration last spring and underwent changes this fall. The most significant change is a streamlining of the plan.
The new plan calls for convening a small group of decision-makers who will choose what communications method to use, how to respond, and what financial resources they will need to expend.
Another change in the plan is that different departments are in the process of writing their own emergency protocol for their facility.
For students, a safety and security manual is mailed through the president’s office explaining what to do in case of an emergency. The basic message is to get in touch with the right people by calling Campus Security or 911.
Currently, students are notified of emergency situations through e-mail and voicemail. Truesdell acknowledged that these methods are not totally effective and stated that new methods are currently being looked into, including a text messaging service and compiling a cell phone directory.
“No single method of communication will work,” said Truesdell, “but we are investigating the best way to let people know.”
While no changes to the plan have been made following Virginia Tech, Truesdell fully expects that as more information emerges there will be much to learn and more to be done to make Lawrence safer.