Sunday, March 30, 2008

Campus safety a major concern

Over the past year the tragedy at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University have shocked college campuses. These Columbine High type events have caused worry and action on college campuses. Since the Virgina Tech shootings took place campuses have been looking at ways to contact their students, all of their students, quickly should a similar event take place at their schools.

Some may say that this is an over reaction to high publicity tragedies that are unlikely to occur on most campuses. This may be somewhat true, but these events have pushed college presidents to address the question with parents and students. The Campus Computing Project ( has been tracking technology trends on campus for many years. The 2007 survey shows that most campuses have some plan for contacting students in the event of violence, weather alerts, accidents, fires, or other emergencies. Most are using their web sites, email systems, and/or text messaging to let their students know about any major safety threats. Some campuses even send voice messages to cell phones. On some campuses a simple siren system has become one of a more than one methods of alerting students that something bad is happening.

Providing these services can run from the inexpensive (email) to those which can cost tens of thousands of dollars (text messaging), but students and parents are more focused on campus safety than ever and the costs are worth it. These are very different times on college campuses. Although violence is rare on most campuses, students should stay alert and parents should ask what systems are in place to communicate with students.

As you look at college campuses you should ask the campus admissions officials what systems are in use. Have they been tested? Has there ever been an event in which the systems were needed. These are all reasonable questions today. You might also check the campus web site searching under emergency notification.

Safety is one of the key concerns of college students today. Although it may be a little blown out of proportion by the media, it is important and should be investigated as you make your college choice.

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