The Gustavian Weekly

In our thoughts and prayers: NIU

By Jacob Seamans News Editor | February 22, 2008 | News, Top Stories

Heather Church, 21, leaves flowers on the memorials of fellow students on the Northern Illinois University campus. The shooting left 6 people dead, including the shooter.

What is Gustavus Safety and Security doing to protect students?

Shootings in Illinois last week and at Virginia Tech almost a year ago have reminded many that they might not be as safe as they once thought. Such realizations have also caused Gustavus’ Safety & Security Director Ray Thrower to consider how Gustavus can improve its own response plan for potential campus shootings.

Gustavus does have some advantages. Having a small campus with a tight knit community, Gustavus is inherently provided with a certain level of security. Additionally, Safety and Security has set up a website where students can share concerns with S&S and the Dean of Students’ office anonymously.

Thrower, however, stresses that even these measures are not 100-percent effective. “The reality of it is, these types of random shooter situations can happen anywhere, anytime,” he said.

In the event of a shooting on campus, Safety and Security has a plan both to notify students to keep out of danger and to stop the shooter. One aspect of the plan, a multi-layer notification system, will warn students through e-mail, text messages, phones messages and, possibly, a campus PA system. Another aspect is the immediate police response: the St. Peter Police and the Nicolet County Sheriffs Office has developed a close relationship with Gustavus S&S. Also, the campus is regularly a part of emergency response excercises involving all three departments.

Other potential security measures, such as a campus key card system and closed-circuit security cameras, have not been implemented, largely due to high costs. Another method, having locks on the insides of classroom doors (to prevent a shooter from entering) has its disadvantages. If a sexual assualt were to occur in a classroom after hours, an assualtant could lock the door and escape notice.

The campus emergency response plan is under constant review by S&S in conjunction with local authorities. The plan can be viewed by students and staff at gustavus.edu/security.

Photo Courtesy Of: MCT Campus