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Post-VT forum held to discuss security, attended by two students

Two days after the Virginia Tech tragedy, Bettie Ann Brigham, vice president of student development, expected more than two students to show up for the open forum addressing EU security on April 18.

Despite the small turnout, Dean of Students Daryl Hawkins, Head of Security Jack Sheehan, University President David Black and Brigham tackled the tough questions asked by the students.

Brigham mentioned the possibility of creating a text messaging alert system in case of emergencies.

A similar system was just installed on April 19 about 30 miles from Eastern. At Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., the service is offered to all students free of charge.

According to CBS 3, within the first two hours of sign-ups for the service, over 200 students were on the list.

The system does have a downside, however.

“Then you have students who don’t have cell phones…. either by choice or they can’t afford it,” Brigham said.

Text messaging students from long-distance area codes would force the school budget higher. Software would need to be purchased as well.

Second, an alarm was proposed that would sound in case of emergency. The alarm would be a signal for students to get in a room, lock the door and await further instruction through e-mail or a campus phone number.

“I like the idea of some type of alarm system, something that’s general so that everyone on campus no matter where they are will know,” junior communications major Marvin Jones said.

“And if it sounded, the surrounding community would know, too,” Hawkins said.

Brigham mentioned the possibility that the shooter could run into the building with other people in that scenario. According to her, no solution is fool-proof.

Jones then recommended that RAs or RDs be present in the lobbies of all residence halls during the night hours. For Jones, this would offer a safe feeling for students.

“It’s a nuisance and a hassle, but I think it’s well worth at least looking into,” he said.

Brigham explained that this used to be a duty of the RAs, but that they would rather have the RAs be among the students than sitting around at a desk.

Thus, the position changed from an administrative-type position to a person who is in the crowd but has leadership.

Lastly, the administration has made observations of Eastern students and their concern for security.

“The reality is that we are a really safe campus,” Brigham said. “However, we should not conduct ourselves like we’re immune, because once we do, we’re putting ourselves in harm’s way.”

She speculated about why only two students came to the forum. Lack of interest in campus security, scheduling conflicts or ignorance of the open forum could have affected the turnout.

President Black has his own theory about the low attendance at the forum.

“If I could observe anything different about our students [compared to those at other universities], I think they’re less surprised at shocking, tragic things because the Holy Spirit prepares us for that kind of world,” Black said.

Brigham and Hawkins would like to extend an open invitation to students who need to talk about the Virginia Tech event or have concerns or suggestions for Eastern security.

Their offices are on the third floor of Walton Hall.

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