The University Police Department must formulate stronger lines of communication with students, faculty and staff members to create a more reliable network of information in case of a campus emergency.
According to the emergency procedures information on the Texas State website, there are numerous forms of communication used to notify the campus in the event of a crisis. Some of the procedures utilized to send out alerts and emergency notifications include emails, local media announcements, classroom signboard flash warnings and text messages sent to student phones under the RAVEAlert program.
While these methods are valuable for the university, creating more advanced precautionary measures could help prevent a future campus emergency.
As of late, there has been a growing concern across the nation regarding student safety in schools. The recent Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut left fear in the hearts of many people. According to a Dec. 14 article from the New York Times, a gunman who was 20 years old killed 26 people, including 20 children, in the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. If a tragedy like this could happen at an elementary school, it seems like it could happen anywhere.
With the recent school shooting tragedy in mind,needs to demonstrate more direct campus interaction and involvement to create trust and reliability in the minds of students, faculty and staff members. One way to accomplish this would be to assign at least one police officer in The Quad or other busy campus areas during heavy traffic hours in the day. The officer or officers could better observe any suspicious behavior or hostile individuals that might cause harm to others on campus. This proactive process could possibly prevent a large-scale emergency or better manage an alert on campus.
According to an Oct. 9 University Star article, UPD has had the same number of officers since 1997 although recent efforts were put forth to begin the hiring process for three new officer positions. In the article, Sgt. Robert Campbell said a new emergency management coordinator would work toward producing an emergency plan for the community. With a new plan and new officers in the fleet, students would likely be better protected in crisis situations, especially as students outnumber officers in a ratio of 1,037 to 1, according to the same article.
In addition to UPD improvements, Texas State students should also take it upon themselves to learn and be familiar with the emergency procedures and evacuation routes at the university. When an emergency alert blasts, the campus body as a whole should feel informed, but also relatively calm. An atmosphere of complete chaos and panic is relatively impossible for first responders to manage and is not conducive to communication efforts.
Students at Texas State should feel safe and secure while on campus. While there is no guaranteed way to keep emergency situations at bay, preventative steps can be taken to ensure that the likelihood of a tragedy is relatively low. By becoming more involved with the students, faculty and staff members, UPD can achieve this goal and help make Texas State a safer campus.