Anne Hutchinson/The Siskiyou
Campus public safety Officer Brian Nordahl reported on a professor’s unlocked door and checked for damage last Saturday night.
College campuses around the nation have been impacted by the tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech early last week.
Many students at SOU have questioned the university’s current policies and procedures regarding campus safety. The university is working diligently to address and reform where needed to insure a safe campus community.
“This is a high priority issue,” said President Mary Cullinan, “We’re doing our best to calm students and make the best plan for the long run.”
President Cullinan said she is still familiarizing herself with the university’s current safety policies, but is confident the SOU campus will remain safe and her experience in Texas will contribute to further insuring the safety of students. Cullinan met with Jonathan Eldrige, director of student affairs, at 2 p.m. Thursday to discus ways to better secure the campus.
“We need to balance the fact that there is a security issue with the fact that this is a free place for thought,” said Cullinan. “This is the dilemma we face.”
People have been sending comments and suggestions to the President’s office regarding how the university can better secure the campus. According to Cullinan, three students have shown concerns for their safety at the university.
“It shakes me up a little bit, but it won’t make me change how I live,” said Chris Benware, senior and political science major.
Benware added that he felt safe on the SOU campus because of the campus gun ban. According to Brian Nordahl, campus public safety officer, there is a ban on having guns on any of the Oregon University System campuses. The ban prevents even those with conceiled weapons permits from carrying a firearm on an OUS campus.
Cullinan sent out a campus-wide e-mail just following the Virginia Tech shooting reassuring the campus community that SOU is a safe place to learn and that the university is treating the situation very seriously.
“We want to create the best environment we can,” said Cullinan.
Cullinan also commented that the university is working closely with local authorities to assure the university is ready in a time of crisis. The e-mail included a link to view the university’s current Emergency Procedures Manual. Cullinan will be reviewing and possibly revising any procedures that may be in need of revision.
“We need to make sure we have the best possible practice here,” said Cullinan. “You don’t want to put things in place in a moment of panic.”
CPS has a plan of operations in case of any detrimental event that could take place on campus. Public Safety is involved with local authorities in working to prevent and address several types of events that could occur.
“The emergency action plan is all-encompassing,” said Nordahl. “The plan covers anything from a terrorist attack to a shooting to a natural disaster. The plan mobilizes all those that need to be mobilized.”
Nordahl confirmed that the emergency procedures are not necessarily changing, but CPS has been in close contact with the local authorities and President Cullinan to ensure the procedures in the event of an emergency will be as effective as possible.
“A shooting could happen anywhere. In preventing it we have a lot of services on campus that are watchful over the students’ well being,” said Nordahl.
Campus Public Safety has officers on campus 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Two years ago CPS, along with the local authorities, trained with the use of the emergency action plan in a simulation of a terrorist attack on the university.
“It’s one thing to see the plan on paper, but it was amazing to see how well it worked in training,” said Nordahl. “It went very smooth and worked well.”