By Kevin Jachimowicz
With the tragedy of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn. in hindsight, Central’s updated Campus Safety program was initiated by a number of high-ranking CCSU faculty and staff. Are the provided preventative measures enough and how do they compare to other universities’ policies?
“In the tragedy [of Sandy Hook], they talked about how the administrators who lost their lives right in the beginning; their delays for a moment, saved probably scores of lives’. They had a sense of what they were supposed to do,” stated Director of Health Services, Dr. Christopher Diamond, with great confidence. It is this type of relentless preparation that is necessary to attempt to maintain order in what can turn into such horrific situations.
The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December of last year not only shocked the nation, but led to an intensive debate about measures to prevent such incidents in the future. Much of the debate focused on gun control, with a number of measures proposed in an attempt to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of criminals and the deranged.
“There are specific measures we can take, but we need to look at the broader social context,” said Dr. David Blitz of the Philosophy Department. “We’ve seen the situation over at the Navy Yard now, and we’ve seen the situations over in Kenya. It’s not a national problem, it’s an international problem. If we had less war in the world, people would be less inclined to solve problems with violence. People see that the nation is solving its problems using violence, then say, okay, why can’t I?”
In this environment, the state of Connecticut as well as individual municipalities have taken the initiative and enacted a host of security measures to prevent unauthorized intrusions and to minimize the damage that an attacker can do. “We have to look at the problems that are increasing in society: growing inequality of incomes, the availability of handguns and semi-automatic weapons, the violence we see in the world around us that some people replicate in their behavior,” continued Dr. Blitz.
The biggest and initial step that was taken at CCSU was the creation of an ad hoc committee (temporary group formed for a specific need), just after the Sandy Hook tragedy.
“About 25% of massacres in the country have occurred at schools, colleges and universities. The ad hoc committee is a response to the growing frequency [of school violence],” states Blitz. “This is not to solve the problem of violence in general but it is what steps can you take to prevent, and to limit the possibility of shooter violence, or [any type of] violence on campus. You want to take preventative steps.”
The CCSU website contains thorough instruction on how to cope with an active shooter situation, the profile of an active shooter, as well as other information on police conduct in such situations. This information is useful for anybody who attends CCSU regularly.
Despite a high frequency of school shootings in America, unreported sexual crimes on campuses are also as rampant as ever. “To me, the biggest concern remains sexual violence on campuses,” Dr. Diamond noted with more than a hint of frustration. “The statistics there are heartbreaking. Most of these crimes are never reported. One in four college women will be the victim of an assault or attempted sexual assault in their college career. If there was a medical illness that was at that level, this would be a national [epidemic].”
There are four groups on campus that each provide their own specific duties. When someone calls the public safety (police) building [860 832-2375], their concern is directed by a dispatcher to the appropriate group from among the following: Threat Assessment Team, Student Behavioral Review Team, Human Resources and Student Wellness Services.
In the updated four-page CCSU campus safety pamphlet (located on the top right of the CCSU website and in Dr. Mcloughlins office), there are there are four basic ideas: Call 911 for imminent and immediate emergency, call (860) 832-2375 for a threat either to the person themselves or to others, how you are notified in campus-wide emergencies and what you can do in these situations.
In comparison to other Connecticut Universities, Eastern Connecticut State University is specifically lacking; the one page pamphlet ECSU ran is below. The CCSU campus safety brochure and website provides for a much more thorough run-through of how to best react and remain safe during dangerous situations.