Charlotte Chambers poses at her future college, Eastern New Mexico University.
On July 16, Northwestern University students, staff and recent alumni received three NU Emergency Management emails, phone calls and text messages each. The situation? A gas leak at Patten Gymnasium. Even in the summer, campus safety can’t be undermined. What seems superfluous to the outsider is often a welcome relief inside the university, despite grumblings about an information overload.
Many schools have bolstered their security since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 with improved communication systems and increased campus security presence. But in the wake of the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting this past week, the question of how to keep people safe in large, public spaces like college campuses has re-emerged.
Abigail Boyers, assistant director of communications for the Clery Center for Security on Campus, said she encourages prospective students and their families to engage in thorough research about an institution by looking at annual security reports and assessing whether the campus takes a holistic approach to its safety network. She cites social media, violence prevention programs and behavioral intervention teams among the crucial factors in evaluating a safe school environment.
Boyers acknowledged that incidents like the Colorado shooting can’t be completely prepared for, but she said asking questions such as, “What are the different ways that [the university is] communicating with students?” can help families in their college decision.
“Unfortunately, we can’t always know a person’s intentions,” she said in regard to the recent shooting. “However, having these kinds of programs in place is important.”
Besides affordability and a degree plan for her dream of going into education, Charlotte Chambers said the Eastern New Mexico University campus will give her the physical and emotional comfort of being five blocks away from home. Chambers plans to attend ENMU in the fall of 2013.
“I have a safe place to land and all my friends are going here, too,” she said. She said she loves how well she knows the area and how she knows “all the little tricks to get around town.”
“It has a real small town feel and I get what I need here,” she said.
Equally vital is her peace of mind.
“Being in a big strange town … of course I’d be scared to walk around by myself wondering where I am,” she said. However, she said she understands the importance of preparation anywhere in light of recent tragedies.
“It’s a little bit scary for me. I’m not a crowd person to begin with, but now I’m more cautious about the crowds I’m in, what the setting is, what time of day it is.”
Emma O’Donoghue, a Maryland native about to start her senior year of high school, is looking for something new after attending the same school since fifth grade.
Her list of requirements for her dream school, however, hadn’t always included campus safety.
“I’ve never really paid much attention to that,” she said. “Just because the area around it isn’t that great won’t stop me from going to a place that I fell in love with.”
She said she has certainly thought about incidents like the shooting, but she retains a hopeful outlook.
“I have thought about it a lot because I can’t believe what happened. I was just in Colorado last week and it’s crazy to think that it won’t happen,” she said, “but I feel like fear won’t help because if you fear it, you won’t go anywhere in life. I can’t stop myself from doing things because I’m scared.”
Powered by Facebook Comments