Tragedy may cause RA training review

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Tragedy may cause RA training review

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By: Kellen Moore, Staff Writer
Posted: 4/25/07

With last week's Virginia Tech shootings still fresh in the minds of many, UNC officials are looking to evaluate residence hall safety as one area of emphasis.

With about 7,700 students living on campus, resident advisers often are the first line of defense in emergencies.

At Va. Tech, Ryan Clark, an RA in West Ambler Johnston Hall, was one of the first of 32 victims killed in last week's shooting rampage. He was investigating a loud noise when he met the gunman in a hallway.

Kyle Jordan, coordinator for student leadership and programming and a member of the committee responsible for training RAs to deal with emergencies, said that while the training RAs receive is extensive, it deals only with situations within the confines of everyday life.

"We don't train them to deal with any type of assailant that might have a weapon," Jordan said.

At UNC, RAs are responsible for a section of a residence hall, and they are placed throughout 14 campus communities.

Training is held two weeks before the semester starts, and it includes preparation for emergencies such as fires, medical accidents and sexual assault, among others.

RAs also are instructed how to deal with roommate conflicts and how to approach students who they suspect might be experiencing emotional problems.

"Really, it is a top-down process from the highest administrators living in a building down to the RAs," Jordan said.

"Everybody is a part of crisis management, and we do it very well."

But despite his confidence in those guidelines, Jordan said there has been talk about UNC reviewing safety procedures more.

"There's no time that we're going to say our policies are 100 percent," Jordan said.

Kareemah Lewis, a former RA in the Olde Campus Upper Quad Community, said the training she received came in handy.

"We were prepared because we had specific training in that area, in dealing with a crisis - not specifically somebody coming to shoot, but students hurting themselves," she said.

Lewis also said the training informed her of resources that most residents are not aware of, especially how to contact public safety officials directly. But she said there still is room to tweak the training.

"I think we could improve on communication. ... Maybe creating new technology-savvy ways to communicate other than e-mail," she said.

One focus of the training is explaining that RAs should be aware of their surroundings and report anything out of the ordinary.

"I think Virginia Tech was a wake-up call to a lot of RAs that when we do see suspicious people ... to take it more seriously and that unexpected things can happen," said Laura Lilly, an RA in Kenan Community.

Gay Perez, associate director of the Department of Housing and Residential Education, said methods used to respond to emergencies vary.

"Sometimes you might stay in place; sometimes you might evacuate. Housing will take its cues from first responders, police or whoever is in charge," she said.

"Everyone thinks they're prepared until something like Virginia Tech happens. ... You can only plan so much."

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Original Source: <a href=http://media.www.dailytarheel.com/media/storage/paper885/news/2007/04/25/University/Tragedy.May.Cause.Ra.Training.Review-2878794.shtml> The Daily Tar Heel - April 25, 2007</a>

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Kellen Moore

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The Daily Tar Heel

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2007-07-16

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Sara Hood

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Kevin Schwartz <kschwartz@unc.edu>

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eng

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Kellen Moore, "Tragedy may cause RA training review," in The April 16 Archive, Item #742, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/742 (accessed September 19, 2014).