Campus responds to terror alert

The College is asking students to take precautionary measures in response to the increased Homeland Security alert, according to Kathryn Leverton, associate vice president for administration and environmental services.

President Bush raised the threat alert from “elevated” (yellow) to “high” (orange) on Friday, Feb. 7, citing that al Qaeda is planning attacks on apartment buildings and low-security areas.

This color-coded scale indicates the risk of terrorist attacks against the nation. The levels are: low (green), guarded (blue), elevated (yellow), high (orange) and severe (red).

Since John Ashcroft attorney general, and Tom Ridge, head of Homeland Security, announced the increase, the Red Cross is recommending that every person take extra precautions.

The College is following its own Critical Incident Plan and Domestic Security Plan.

Lt. Don Rizzo of Campus Police believes that there is a very slim chance that terrorists will target the College, but it’s still important for the campus community to be alert.

“We don’t want people to panic, just to be alert and careful,” Rizzo said. “The world is a different place than it was pre-9/11.”

Rizzo said a lot of the precautions are common sense measures students should take anyway.

Leverton said students need to report any people they believe do not have authorization to be on campus.

Students should be aware of people, not including police or security officials, who are monitoring buildings.

People who are wearing clothes not appropriate for the season, or who are leaving packages alone in crowded areas, should also be reported.

Students observing large delivery trucks that are not usually present or cars left for more than 12 hours should alert campus police or other officials.

“It’s easier for thousands of people to look around in an area that they are familiar with, said Rizzo.”There are so many people going around on autopilot, with other stuff on their minds, not thinking. We need them to be more alert,” he added.

Those living in Residence Halls need to keep their doors and windows shut. Students should not lend their keys or disclose passwords or access codes to anyone.

“We get so comfortable in our offices and residence halls that we drop our guard,” Rizzo said. “We leave doors unlocked and keys laying around and that’s where the bad guys take advantage.”

The College also a partnership with other agencies to respond to attacks. If something was to occur, Campus Police would notify the proper respondents, including the fire department, state police or military, if needed.

This is the second time since the monitor was created that Bush has raised the level to orange.

In addition to methods already taken for low risk situations, the American Trucking Association (ATA) is on alert for suspicious vehicles in pre-cleared areas or lost or missing equipment.

The Red Cross is asking people to develop alternative routes to work and be cautious when traveling.

Carol Hall, manager of the American Red Cross weapons of mass destruction terrorism program said, ?These events can happen any time, any place, so we must make sure we are ready.