Local colleges reflect on Va. Tech shootings


Local colleges reflect on Va. Tech shootings


By Peter Reuell/Daily News staff
The MetroWest Daily News
Posted Apr 16, 2008 @ 12:35 AM


A year after the shooting massacre that left 33 people dead at Virginia Tech, security remains a concern on local college campuses.

On campuses from Framingham to Franklin, officials said, the aftershocks of the shooting - and a more recent incident at Northern Illinois University, which left five others dead - are still being felt.

After the April 16, 2007, killings at Virginia Tech, many schools quickly re-evaluated their security plans, particularly their ability to communicate with faculty and staff in a crisis.

At many, including Framingham State College, the solution was to install a system that allows administrators to send emergency messages by phone and computer to the entire campus at the touch of a button.

"You learn from the incident, and it allows you to, perhaps, make changes in your own systems," said Framingham State spokesman Peter Chisholm.

The school later this month plans to finish installing a siren that will alert students, faculty and staff to campuswide emergencies.

"At every college or university campus in the country, I'm sure, the president and public safety administrators sat down and reviewed what they had in place, and what improvements they could make," Chisholm said.

The incident that sparked those meetings happened a year ago today in Blacksburg, Va.

Just after 7 a.m., disturbed Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho killed two students in a dormitory, then went on a shooting rampage in a classroom building, eventually killing 32 people and himself.

At Massachusetts Bay Community College in Wellesley, administrators are close to installing a campuswide notification system similar to Framingham State's. They have held numerous meetings to review the school's crisis policies.

"There's a method or protocol for just about every situation that could arise on campus," said Lisa Cascio, the school's director of communications and public affairs. "When something like this happens, every campus across the country feels vulnerable."

Along with an emergency communications system, Franklin's Dean College officials rely on an emergency alarm, which alerts everyone on campus to emergencies.

"We've trained everybody to know - students, faculty and staff - if you hear that alarm, that means check your text messages," said Pat Samson, director of public relations and communications.

"I think incidents like these, it's not that it raised the priority. I think it refocused attention," she added. "We want to make sure everything is up to date.

"I think it sharpens the focus. (Safety) is in the top three things, so it's always on the minds of the college's administrators, and the families and the students. When these events happen, things just come more sharply into focus."

(Peter Reuell can be reached at 508-626-4428 or preuell@cnc.com.)

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Peter Reuell




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Peter Reuell, “Local colleges reflect on Va. Tech shootings,” The April 16 Archive, accessed June 23, 2024, https://www.april16archive.org/items/show/2137.