Kennesaw State University officials respond to the Virginia Tech tragedy‚ hold campus forums to address concerns of students‚ faculty and staff

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (April 20‚ 2007) — Kennesaw State University officials are continuing to respond on…

Georgia (Apr 20, 2007) — Kennesaw State University officials respond to the Virginia Tech tragedy‚ hold campus forums to address concerns of students‚ faculty and staff

Jeremy Craig

Abstract

Contact: Director of University Relations
Frances Weyand Harrison
770−423−6203
fharris4@kennesaw.edu

Writer: Jeremy Craig‚ 770−423−6203 or jcraig19@kennesaw.edu

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (April 20‚ 2007) — Kennesaw State University officials are continuing to respond on multiple fronts to the tragic shootings that took place at Virginia Tech on Monday‚ expressing their condolences for the many lives lost in the deadly shootings‚ taking steps to address the university’s ability to ensure the safety of KSU students‚ faculty and staff‚ and‚ most recently‚ holding forums for the campus community to address their concerns.

“We express our deepest condolences to our colleagues at Virginia Tech‚” President Daniel S. Papp stated. “This is a very sad time in higher education‚ and in our history as a nation‚ because of the tragic loss of life that has been experienced on the Virginia Tech campus. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of those families who have lost their loved ones in this tragedy.”

ADDRESSING CONCERNS

Several members of the university administration participated in two public forums hosted by the Taskforce on Interpersonal Violence at KSU Thursday to address concerns of the campus community in the wake of the horrific shootings that occurred on Monday. The taskforce is committed to supporting comprehensive services for students‚ faculty and staff who have been victims of violence‚ and to preventing further violence from occurring.

The first “Responding to Virginia Tech” meeting was held Thursday afternoon in the Social Sciences Building Auditorium‚ where more than 200 concerned students‚ faculty and staff attended. University officials fielded numerous questions from attendees about campus safety and security.

A second‚ smaller meeting was held at 9 p.m. Thursday at University Village residential housing‚ attracting about 20 students who discussed several campus safety issues with a body of KSU officials.

PREVENTION AND PREPARATION

As news of Monday’s developments unfolded‚ President Papp immediately directed the university’s cabinet to address the aftermath and implications of the Virginia Tech shootings‚ to assess the university’s present emergency preparedness and communications capabilities‚ as well as any needed improvements.

Prior to Monday’s horrific acts at Virginia Tech‚ campus officials already had taken key steps to avert such a tragic scenario from occurring on the KSU campus‚ or to enhance the university’s ability to respond effectively in the event of such an unfortunate scenario.

KSU’s Department of Public Safety is working integrally with KSU administrators to expand the university’s capabilities to expediently respond to a similar incident if it were to occur here on campus‚ said Ted Cochran‚ director of the department.

While KSU has mass e−mail capabilities to inform the campus about emergencies‚ a key point of discussion is introducing new technologies to communicate with the KSU community through the use of “mass notification systems.” In addition to currently deployed e−mail blasts‚ these new systems would allow KSU officials to inform the campus community via cell−phone−blast text messages‚ land−line telephone−voice−mail blasts‚ pagers and other communications systems about emergencies that require immediate protective action to be taken – including human−caused and natural disasters.

Such systems’ hardware and software will be housed off−campus‚ so that if campus infrastructure is damaged‚ the systems could still send out emergency notifications‚ said Kemper Anderson‚ assistant director of KSU’s Department of Public Safety. Other options being explored include a “civil−defense type siren system‚” which would broadcast campus wide to signal an emergency in progress.

In addition to addressing current and proposed tactics to effectively communicate emergency situations on campus‚ KSU officials also are focused on the preparedness of the university’s law enforcement and security operation.

Kennesaw State has a strong preventive police presence on campus‚ with 26 certified and sworn police officers who are well−trained to exercise their judgment to mitigate crimes on campus.

In fact‚ after Monday’s shootings were publicized through the national news media‚ KSU’s police officers were dispatched to high−traffic areas of campus‚ where large numbers of students‚ staff and faculty congregate‚ according to Kemper Anderson‚ assistant director of public safety.

On another preventive front‚ KSU officials strictly enforce Georgia’s “no guns” policy on campus. The statute (O.C.G.A. 16−11−127.1) prohibits the carrying or possession of weapons on any school campus‚ including colleges and universities.

Additionally‚ security cameras are in place at key‚ strategic areas on campus where there is high−volume student traffic. These cameras are monitored diligently by KSU police.

All of KSU’s 26 sworn police officers annually receive eight hours of “force−on−force active shooter training” to deal with situations like the one that occurred at Virginia Tech.

Anderson said the KSU police department also has a very strong relationship with the Cobb County Police Department‚ in addition to other local police and fire departments. Staff from KSU’s Counseling‚ Advising‚ & Program Services (CAPS) also are trained to respond and assist police in emergency situations involving people who are mentally ill.

Also‚ in January‚ President Papp approved the creation of a new position‚ an assistant vice president for strategic security and safety. The new appointee‚ Robert Lang‚ will join the university in May‚ reporting to KSU Vice President of Operations Randy Hinds.

STAYING SAFE

After Monday’s shooting incident in Virginia‚ KSU police also responded to requests from faculty members and others to address personal safety on campus.

Cochran and Anderson offered important advice to students‚ faculty‚ staff and other members of the KSU community in order to help prevent tragedies from ever occurring on campus.

The most important piece of advice is to pay attention to your surroundings‚ Anderson said.

Students who live on campus should be extremely mindful of who is provided access into the residence halls‚ erring on the side of caution and placing safety above courtesy.

Another important piece of advice is to let police know if anything suspicious is happening on campus.

Suspicious activities should be reported to the police‚ who will investigate. The public can contact KSU police by calling 770−423−6666‚ using any one of the emergency telephone kiosks across campus. Additionally‚ the public can e−mail tips to the police department’s command staff (listed at www.kennesaw.edu/police) or call the confidential tipster line at 770−423−6305.

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A member of the 35−unit University System of Georgia‚ Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population approaching 20‚000 from 132 countries. The third−largest university in Georgia‚ Kennesaw State offers more than 60 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including a new doctorate in education.


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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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