V-Tech tragedy sparks security changes at QU

By on September 12, 2007

A campus-wide e-mail sent out in late August from Quinnipiac University President John L. Lahey, stated, “in light of the Virginia Tech tragedy, we have taken steps to review thoroughly our emergency plan and procedures.”

“I thought the most important communication I could make to students as well as parents, faculty, and staff at the beginning of this year was that we have done this review,” Lahey said in a recent interview.

Although Lahey’s e-mail alerts the Quinnipiac community about the appropriate measures they are taking to improve our school, many students were left wondering what those measures would entail.

“I thought it was great that President Lahey contacted all of the students, but I was still a little confused after I read his e-mail,” senior elementary education major Stacy Woodhull said.

Chief of Quinnipiac Security John R. Twining, pointed out that every student had an emergency guide mailed to their homes this summer from the Department of Safety and Security. The guide maps out exactly what students need to do in case of any type of emergency. The guide describes what to do for evacuation procedures, violent intruders, bomb threats, and other emergencies. Twining said the change in the Quinnipiac policy is simply, “making it common knowledge among the community.”

This kind of education will not only take place in the classroom with the students, but Quinnipiac University faculty, maintenance and housekeeping are all involved as well. “We spent a full day at a planning session in June and another full day in August off-campus in a meeting with senior management getting reports and reviewing all of our protocols,” Lahey said. The Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Carol Boucher, sent out an e-mail to all faculty members regarding how to respond to a distressed student.

The first step with both faculty and students is to call security by dialing 111 from a campus phone or 203-582-6200 from a cell phone. Twining pointed out that although dialing 911 may be instinctual, it is actually going to be more time consuming and less helpful for our community.

“In dialing 911 you may get a student whose screaming, ‘my roommate’s not breathing on the floor in Commons,” Twining said. The problem with that is there are 911 dispatcher’s in areas other than Hamden, including Bethany, Westbrook, and Bridgeport. “Not everyone knows where the Commons is,” Twining said.

Students are advised to dial 111 for on campus emergencies and campus security responds with a 911 phone call. “If something like Virginia Tech were to happen here, our (Campus Security) first response is to call 911,” Twining said. “I will be doing a follow-up because we will be implementing some changes and we have brought some outside people on to review these plans,” Lahey said.

Twining recommended that every student sign up on www.getrave.com, a broadcast alert, where in the case of an emergency a text message is sent to cell phones on the list. So far about 1,900 students are signed up for the campus alerts.

President Lahey’s e-mail also discussed a Crisis Management Team. The team was put in place following the events that occured on September 11. The team includes “anyone who might have a hand in managing a crisis,” Twining said. The crisis management plan is under constant review and updates are still being made. The team also has a resource manual, consisting of whom to call upon in an emergency, including electric companies, Hamden Police Department, fire departments and Life Star. “I was confident that we had in place proper security measures and protocol to prevent anything of that nature from occuring here,” Lahey said. “But if it did we would have strategies to respond to it in an appropriate way.”

Another measure that is set to be in place within the next few months is placing condensed versions of the emergency guide in classrooms, residence halls and bathroom stalls. According to Twining, it is important for the student body to be aware of what is going on in the community around them.


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