By Kim Holzinger
August 30, 2007
As university officials across the country have been evaluating their emergency response systems after a shooting at Virginia Tech left 33 dead last spring, University of Richmond administrators have made several updates of their own.
Steve Bisese, vice president for student development, said the shooting "caused us to re-think our training programs and communications." Although he added that Richmond has had a good safety record, "we can't get fooled into a false sense of security."
The university is more prepared now than it was before the Virginia Tech shooting, school officials say, but administrators recognize that the campus is a large community to protect, especially because of the many buildings and entrances.
"It's impossible to guarantee 100 percent safety," Bisese said.
University Police Chief Bob Dillard said although the recent updates have strengthened the university's preparedness for a potential shooter situation, the campus's safety system was still considered effective before the Virginia Tech shootings.
"Prior to Tech we were more prepared than the vast majority of colleges," Dillard said.
Before the Virginia Tech shooting, Richmond already had a response policy and hazardous entry training in place for years, the Emergency Response Team had been meeting regularly and firearms, except for those used by police officers, were outlawed on campus.
But after the shootings in April, members of the campus community recognized a sense of urgency to update the alert system, said Kathy Monday, vice president for information services.
"Tech really opened up people's consciousness about the need to communicate effectively," Monday said.
With the heightened awareness felt on college campuses, Richmond administrators took several steps to update campus safety, which included purchasing a new alert system, making security changes within campus buildings, holding an active shooter drill and creating a team of administrators to evaluate reports of troubled students.
"We want to be as safe as possible and also keep in mind not disrupting the education process," Bisese said.
NEW ALERT SYSTEM INCLUDES TEXT MESSAGING
Information Services recently purchased Connect-ED, an emergency communication system, from the NTI group, providing a single way for campus officials to launch emergency communications across the entire campus.
The system, called UR Alert, can now send e-mails and leave voicemails on students' room phones in residence halls and.