Recent events have brought home the reality that our small College community is not immune to outside threats.
Although it ended up being a hoax, the report of a shooting in a College dormitory disrupted the norms on our secluded campus. Despite having heard about the tragedies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Delaware State University, the possibility became startlingly real for most of us when we read or heard about this reported shooting. Frantic calls from parents, a lockdown in Travers/Wolfe halls and the appearance of various media outlets resulted almost immediately.
The only positive aspect of the hoax was the response of the College.
E-mails were sent quickly. The College kept students informed, even when there was only a sentence or two of new information to put out.
Campus Police officers were posted in the Towers and hall security workers began checking the IDs of students entering and leaving the buildings.
Signs were posted around the other residence halls encouraging students to be vigilant. Even students who had not checked their e-mail that morning likely realized either through these signs or word of mouth that something was going on.
The actions taken by the College as the news of the “shooting” developed are reassuring. We now know that if an emergency situation really did occur on campus we would be notified quickly. Students who were oblivious to the events on Sunday will be aware in the future that they should check their e-mail if something potentially threatening seems to be unfolding.
Moreover, the response seemed calm on the part of the College. Perhaps we’ve learned from other schools or even events at our own. Either way, the College’s actions immediately after the report of the shooting seemed to be carried out in an organized manner.
This alone is enough to suggest that there really is a “contingency plan” of some sort and that it was executed as planned.
Of course, there is always room for improvement when it comes to campus security.
The Signal reported in August that the College is looking into using text messaging to communicate with students in crisis situations, mimicking the crisis plans of schools like Montclair State University. Adopting a crisis management notification system via cell phone would greatly enhance the College’s current system of notification. E-mails and alerts on the College’s Web site are great, but some students simply will neglect to check the Internet before running out the door in the morning.
Fortunately, this editorial is being written about what could happen in the future, not what should not have happened on Sunday. We’re writing with relief and increased awareness of just how real the events that occurred at Virginia Tech last year were, but we’re also writing with a revitalized memory of the horrors that occurred there.
Though an actual emergency situation could unfold differently than the events that occurred Sunday, it is good to know our school is prepared to defend the safety of our community. We’re taking the right precautions – now we can only hope we never have to make use of them.