Western mourns

Crime Nation Student Life World

The dust of Virginia Tech has settled, however, the minds of students, parents, faculty and administrators across the nation have not.

The questions, what ifs and hypothetical situations are mounting. Concerns over safety policies and security procedures for college campuses are being called into question across the nation.

VA Tech

Missouri Western’s Dan Nicoson, vice president of university advancement, is confident that if a situation similar to Virginia Tech’s with an armed gunman on campus happened here at Western, it would be well handled.

“We maintain a professional police force 24/7; they are going to do what crime scene expectations are and what our emergency safety plan calls for,” Nicoson said.

Aside from just safety, many questions have been asked about the communication system used to alert the students at Virginia Tech. Many commentators and students feel that e-mail alone is not an accurate way to inform students of possible life-threatening situations.

Jonathon Kelley, director of public safety, said that there are many ways to communicate with students whether it is through e-mail or radio for the commuter students.

“Our initial steps would be to get e-mail out,” Kelley said. “It is the quickest way to get information out to a large group of people at one time. Also, the public safety vehicles have public address capabilities on three of the squad cars, so in a isolated area, that would be one of the tools we could use in our department.”

Kelley predicts that systems will be set up so that campuses can plug into student’s cell phones and send text messages or voice messages to large groups of students.

Nicoson said that campuses will continue to assess communication options.

Another question would be if Virginia Tech’s situation would have been different if better communication systems were in place.

“It might have improved, but wouldn’t have solved the issue,” said Robert Mazur, a Western senior.

Right now the campus has procedures in place for alerting students about dangers on campus include e-mail, a phone tree and public address systems on three public safety vehicles.

If a danger were to happen on campus, Nicoson stated what he believed would be the chain of events.

“Jon Kelley would call his supervisor, Ron Olinger, of financial planning and administration,” Nicoson said. “Ron would then determine if the president [James Scanlon] needs to be notified and probably either me or Kristi Hill because of the communication needs. And I am sure he would notify the Provost [Joseph Bragin].”

As for overall security, Nicoson and Kelley agreed that nothing is totally preventable, and what happened at Virginia Tech could happen anywhere.

Kelley made suggestions about what students can do for self-protection.

“Be aware of your surroundings, be aware of people and what is going on,” Kelley said.

He also stated that if something were to happen, students should get in a room, lock it and remain quiet until law enforcement is in the building.

VA Tech

Kelley said that public safety’s response would depend on the situation at hand.

When dealing with a student who is questionable and a possible threat to others on campus, Kelley said that various offices work together to solve the problem.

“The Public Safety Center, the Counseling Center and the Dean of Students office work closely together to address issues of behavior and inappropriate behavior at times,” Kelley said.

Mazur said he is confident as to the safety on Western’s campus.

“I think it’s [Western] fairly safe,” Mazur said. “Public Safety is active on campus.”

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