Safety at American universities has taken on a more pressing tone after a shooting on the campus of Delaware State University following the Virginia Tech tragedy last spring.
Like the aftershock of an earthquake, colleges and universities are carrying on research and implementing enhanced security measures to ensure students a safe environment where they can live and learn.
If the Virginia Tech massacre, which took the lives of 32 students and faculty, wasn’t enough, the Delaware State shootings have raised more concern among students about their safety on campus.
Cory O’Hayre, a freshman history and political science major, said he didn’t know why more wasn’t being to ensure a safer environment on campus.
“When I first came here, I expected a lot of briefing and information regarding security of students, especially after Virginia Tech,” O’Hayre said.
Campus Police sent some e-mails, handed out police contact details and gave a “10 minute talk on usual stuff such as ‘Don’t carry too much cash on you, be careful of people around you,'” he said.
Junior Martina Lecki said the safety issue is too important to be acted on so slowly.
“Other universities have quickly installed crises management teams and quickly implemented measures that have improved campus safety,” she said.
Lecki, an international business major taking mostly evening classes, said she feels unsafe on campus because police officers don’t patrol regularly enough at night. She said that their presence is even less visible on roads such as the ones that lead to University Village. She added that bad lighting on such roads has made matters worse.
The outdoor portion of the campus is not the only concern when it comes to safety; several students voiced their concern about the lack of security in Temple’s residence halls, also.
Freshman music performance major Melissa Denas, who lives on campus, is one of the many Temple students who said Temple must address the matter without adding further delays.
“We usually see police patrolling around dorms to check if everything is OK,” Denas said. “Our concern mainly lies with the problem of entry into dorms.
“Many times there have been cases of anyone and everyone just walking right in,” she added. “It is scary to know this, especially at nights, when even basic measures such as ID checks are being passed by with ease.”
Captain Robert M. Lowell of Campus Safety Services’ investigations unit addressed concerns regarding the issue of unauthorized persons walking into residence halls. He said if someone is found wandering in a residence hall unattended, the resident should immediately report this person to the Campus Police supervisor.
When asked what security measures Campus Police are taking presently in comparison to previous years, Lowell provided fresh ideas surrounding the incorporation of technology and teamwork. The university has recently purchased a MIR 3 communication system, relying on the aid of technology to inform staff and students of what to do in a state of emergency.
The MIR 3 system is able to communicate with students via text messaging, e-mail and voice messaging. Students who keep their phones off during class don’t have to worry; the system also contains an audible feature that will alert students to check their phones or e-mail.
The MIR 3 is in test mode. The university will be sending out a message to students and staff in the near future, asking them for their contact information for future emergencies.
Another practice Campus Police has created to keep everyone safe is the use of a program known as Active Shooter. Active Shooter was created to minimize the amount of time it takes for a special unit to reach the destination of an emergency, such as a school shooting. All police officers, on campus and in Philadelphia, have taken a course in Active Shooting.
In the event of a shooting, the first responding police units form teams, either a two-man team or multiple. The team goes on to isolate the alleged cause of the emergency, and while they take action, other police officers called to the site are able to remove the public from the situation.
Lowell recommended students take part in the on-campus conferences called Listening Circles. Within the Listening Circles, students are able to voice their opinions on the issues of whether or not campus safety is effective.
While students in general agreed that additional seminars and timely orientation would help, sophomore business major Noel Van Ravenstein said he felt it wasn’t enough.
“In addition to seminars, the university should strive to maintain a healthy physiological environment to prevent such disasters,” Van Ravenstein said. “Emphasis needs to be placed on counseling sessions as well. In regards to security, I feel safe here but student discussion groups working with security services would definitely help.”
Students such as senior history major Steven Diromualto were in support for the security provided by Temple and felt they’re doing a good job.
“I feel safe here. The security is efficient,” Diromualto said. “It is important to note that ours is an open campus and any one could walk in when they feel like. So the chances of something like Virginia Tech massacre happening anywhere and any point are always there.”
The fact that loopholes always exist in overall security measures always opens the door of possibility to tragic events, added sophomore sports and recreation management major Denise Brown.
“Ever since Virginia Tech, security here has been better,” Brown said. “But in light of the recent shootings, it must improve in areas where it can. However, loopholes in security measures always exist and this can be a worrying factor.
“One can only watch out and hope for the best.”
Kylie Messner and Kunal Parekh can be reached at TempleNews@gmail.com.