Examining Safety at State, Local Levels

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Examining Safety at State, Local Levels

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<b>BHE takes a look at campus security</b>

By: Kate Davies
Posted: 4/20/07

The Board of Higher Education, during its meeting that was previously called to clarify the fine print on Massachusetts&#39;s policy toward allowing undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition, said it plans to review universities&#39; security policies in wake of this Monday&#39;s shootings at Virginia Tech.

Taking time to reflect on the shootings, in which 32 Virginia Tech members were killed by a gunman who then took his own life, Board officials said although universities already have adequate crisis response plans in place, it is important to review such policies and possibly seek more statewide funding for the schools.

"We have strong plans in place to secure a safe learning and working environment that we can go to everyday," said Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary Grant. "We always have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

The BHE announced it will meet in June at the University of Massachusetts with public and private universities and state police to review existing response programs.

In a BHE press release yesterday, Secretary of Public Safety Kevin Burke said the schools&#39; existing plans are extensive.

"The Department of State Police review of these plans is designed to ensure that the plans continue to reflect best practice standards," he said.

After further work with universities, schools may adopt more high-tech communication methods, including automated voice and text-messaging systems and better counseling services for students, the BHE press release states.

When the Board turned to its original agenda, it released a "fact sheet" detailing the fine print of the in-state tuition system as it applies to undocumented immigrants.

BHE chairman Aaron Spencer said the fact sheet is meant to clarify two bills filed separately by the Senate and House that would each allow undocumented immigrants to attend state institutions at the same price other state residents pay. Similar bills failed in the Legislature last year.

"In an effort to be totally non-partisan and only deal with the facts, we have decided to prepare a questions-and-answers document to provide key information," Spencer said.

Though the Board firmly refused to take a stance on the bills, the fact sheet repeatedly stated the state college system can afford to enroll such students.

According to the fact sheet, under terms of the bills, undocumented immigrants would be eligible for in-state tuition after completing three or more years of high school in Massachusetts and graduating or attaining the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Addressing concerns that the plan would make it more difficult for legal residents to attend college, Spencer said the commonwealth&#39;s 29 universities would maintain the same admissions standards. Because undocumented immigrants would still not be eligible for state-funded financial aid, documented residents would not lose state funds.

The BHE fact sheet also states there is sufficient space available in Massachusetts&#39;s state colleges for additional students. About 400 to 600 additional students would be eligible for in-state tuition at Massachusetts&#39;s colleges under the plan, which would generate about $2.5 million for the state, according to statistics from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

The Board&#39;s Fiscal Affairs and Administrative Policy Committee also unanimously approved a uniform policy on residency status for state and community colleges that would classify applicants as either residents or nonresidents.

"This motion is merely an effort to have a concerted, evenhanded document that applies to everyone," Spencer said. "One thing I am proud of about this document is that it is one step toward operating as a system, and not separate parts."

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Original Source:<a href=http://media.www.dailyfreepress.com/media/storage/paper87/news/2007/04/20/News/Examining.Safety.At.State.Local.Levels-2871445.shtml>The Daily Free Press - April 20, 2007</a>

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Kate Davies

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The Daily Free Press

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2007-08-14

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Sara Hood

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Matt Negrin <editor@dailyfreepress.com>

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eng

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Kate Davies, "Examining Safety at State, Local Levels," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1038, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/1038 (accessed October 23, 2014).