V-Tech tragedy raises awareness

Posted May 4, 2007

Since the massacre that took 33 lives at Virginia Tech almost three weeks ago, schools across the country are wondering what could have been done to prevent this horrific event.

It has raised concern for campus security agencies and communication between students and staff during emergency situations.

“I have definitely felt less safe since the Virginia Tech shootings,” Karee Hickey, a junior liberal studies major said.

After a gun scare last week at Bonita High School, just a few streets away from campus, the reality of similar emergencies really hit home for ULV students, faculty and staff. The news about the threat spread quickly as e-mails were sent to all ULV accounts.

“I’m glad to see some increased campus awareness,” Zandra Wagoner, assistant professor of philosophy and religion and general education program director said.

The University of La Verne is not going to wait around and hope that their current safety procedures are good enough in a real emergency situation; instead Campus Safety is currently searching for new safety methods that are effective and reliable.

“We are looking into upgrading our communication,” Michael Nunez, director of campus safety and transportation said.

Some of the new possible safety options include small television screens in buildings and classrooms that will flash during emergency situations and sirens attached to buildings and dorms, as well as additional telephones on campus.

“Alarms and phones will help, but you can never prepare for a situation like that,” Hickey added.

The University had been looking into security upgrades prior to the Virginia Tech tragedy, but since the event, these concerns for campus safety have grown.

“Every college, big or small, needs to look at what they have in place and evaluate their means and procedures,” William Darity, sports information director, said.

“I certainly want to feel a sense of safety on campus but (I) also don’t want to live in a police state,” Wagoner said.

A meeting will be held later this month to discuss a budget and to decide if, and when, these new improvements will take shape.

In the meantime, Campus Safety has held a meeting for students and faculty where questions and concerns about school safety and the Virginia Tech shootings were answered.

If there ever is a situation where a gunman is on campus, students are urged to drop to the ground and make themselves as small as possible until the “all-clear” is given.

“I think La Verne is safer than most schools because it is small and in a good neighborhood,” Carol Luu, a senior business major said.

Madison Steff can be reached at msteff@ulv.edu.

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