In the wake of the largest single shooting incident in American history, parents are looking at their children's respective universities and wondering, "Is my child safe at college?"
The answer, however, is not as cut and dry. While universities throughout the nation employ what's commonly referred to as "rent-a-cops," the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech raises the issue of how security could be vastly improved. The university did have typical crime statistics before gunman Cho Seung-Hui took the lives of 32 students in classrooms and a dorm early on April 16. Now, it is that campus security had a lot more to worry about than closing down keg parties and minimizing the number of stolen public signs.
"It doesn't appear they had a contingency plan and reacted to the situation they had," said former New York City police commissioner Howard Safir. "It looks like they misinterpreted the facts. They had a double murder, no gun, no shooter, yet did not lock down the campus for over two hours. It didn't seem they had an emergency-response plan they had drilled and practiced on." READ MORE
How do YOU feel about the level of security on America's college campuses? Please e-mail your response to email@example.com, and check in later to see if your response has been posted!
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"In a post 9/11 world, school safety must be a primary focus for American life in the 21st century. The events of 9/11 should have been an enormous wake-up call to the realities of foreign-bred terrorism — Americans know what it takes to defend ourselves. No, I am not suggesting in any way that we should all become martial art black belts, armed with our own semi-automatics; what I am saying is that we seemed to have collectively lost or given up our will to survive. In public schools, K-12, across our great nation, the NEA has strategically managed to suppress any thought of fighting back, by imposing rules that expel students for defending themselves. After years of this kind of brainwashing, the result is that young people begin to believe it is better to acquiesce than to fight back when they are faced with aggression. I grieve for those lost. My heart is heavy with their loss and I share this with their parents and families. News reports have indicated there were a few students and one very courageous professor that did stand up and fight back. That IS the American way." — S.G. (Tampa, FL)
"Security on America's college campuses can no more be secured than any other aspect of American life. I believe that sociopaths in this world will always find a way to murder people." — Larry (Alpine, TX)
"I have not heard anyone explain why there are no locks on the doors at Virginia Tech. How can there be a 'lockdown' if you can't lock the doors to the classrooms? I have a suggestion. Wedges. Much less expensive than installing locks and WAY quicker. From what I glean from the news reports, some of the students could not keep Cho Seung-Hui out. One young man said there was nothing heavy to put against the door. And some were shot trying to hold the door shut. A door wedge would have stopped that. One class had to run across a hall to get to a room that had a door with a lock." — Mrs. Williams (Anchorage, AK)
"I believe that every professor must be armed. We don't live in the same world today. We must protect our families and ourselves. Political correctness is going to get us all killed." — Debbie
"My hope is that we can learn how to protect our children from this. It did not seem to me that Tech had a very good system in play here. I am not pointing finger at anyone but our schools need to be safe. We need to know when we send our children to school or away to college that they are safe. I have five grandchildren, and I worry for their safety — not only at school but also in our world of evil. I hope we also learn to take action when we have been informing that a student is mentally ill. I do believe Tech has to answer for all the information they had on Cho and did nothing to get him the help that he needed or to remove him from campus." — Jo (Virginia)
"Parents and students need to do their own due diligence when looking at colleges. We've sent two children away to college and safety was an issue. I would require colleges to include a safety series during orientation. My fear is that we and/or the government will get sucked into wasting money for unnecessary safety equipment or programs. No safety program or equipment would have stopped this monster." — Brian (Durant, OK)
"I really wish America would just wake up! You'd think that by now parents, friends and teachers would notice warning signs and find a way to help the individual with their problems. In all of the school shooting incidents, I really feel that the parents should have been more involved in the lives of their children and taken appropriate measures to insure the safety of the child and others. If this individual had such issues I think first and foremost that the parents should have gotten him some help and the school probably should have dismissed him for his previous actions on campus. Then maybe all of this would have never happened." — M.S. (Baton Rouge, LA)
"It's impossible to totally prevent such events — on campus or off. We do not have an effective system for handling the mentally ill. Our obsession with individual rights does not allow us to remove and impose care on those who are identified as posing serious threats to society until they have actually acted on their insane impulses. There were plenty of warning signs in this case and, despite the fact that this bizarre behavior was brought to the attention of school and security authorities, nothing could be done. I guess that this is the cost of living in a 'free society.'" — Philip (East Geenbush, NY)
"It's time we start getting serious about safety by having metal detectors and armed campus police. The extra money it would cost is well worth saving our future generation's lives." — Chandler (Arizona)
"It is a serious recommendation for future use in circumstances requiring successful, instant, emergency alerts on university campuses at dire, critical times. The system is old, but inexpensive, and worked during WW II. In Detroit (and other American cities), we Americans had city wide, very loud warning sirens, used to alert the population to potential enemy air attacks — which, fortunately, never came." — George
"In light of this terrible tragedy, I hope ALL campuses (and large business complexes, malls, etc), install and employ the use of outdoor posted air-raid sirens that can be set off from central locations on campus. When the sirens are engaged, they should be loud enough to be heard inside all structures. They should not be turned off until the situation is secure. Upon hearing the sirens, anyone on campus should know to get into lockdown mode (as frequently employed in elementary, middle and high schools around the country) and are not to come out of lockdown mode until the sirens are shut off. Also, the sirens would be warning enough to anyone attempting to enter campus that the campus is under lockdown mode and the person(s) should leave immediately to a safe spot away from campus. I think this would come in handy during any type of local or national emergency (especially if it could employ a voice-speaker system to send updates, alerts, etc), or in a dangerous weather situation. Regular drills should be employed to keep everyone up to date on its use and purpose." — Michelle (Land O' Lakes, FL)
"As a Virginian and a retired paramedic, I like the rest of country am horrified about yesterdays killings. Everyone wants to place blame upon something or someone, grasping at straws as to how to keep this from happening again. Unfortunately, the young man who did this was a domestic terrorist and as we know, terrorists will find a way. There are thousands of mentally ill people walking around free in malls, sports arenas, and college campuses. Some of these may be capable of the same depravity, while many are not. But like this young man, none of them have been legally tagged as such so we can separate them from society. How do we know exactly what they will do? Maybe we need to bring in psychics? Do we put emergency sirens in every building of every college campus and have drills for lock-downs? I think that's probably a good idea. It would be a good idea for the malls and the arenas as well, because these things happen so fast that are over before any police department can respond." — Joanna
"Ever since Columbine, children elementary through high school have practiced drills. In addition to earthquake, tornado or hurricane, they practice drills for lockdown. Basically, the procedure is to 'hide and be quite.' We need to review the thinking behind this procedure. Yes, some people may have been killed if they tried to overpower Cho at Virginia Tech. But 33? We have to start teaching children alternatives to these tactics." — V
"All the high-tech announcements in existence won't do a thing to warn students of danger if their TVs are off, their cell phones are on silent and their computers are shut down — and certainly not if they are 'sleeping in.' What ever happened to the old-fashioned air-raid siren? If a siren is installed on every campus, and is only used in the case of dire circumstances to announce a lockdown, EVERYONE would know immediately to take cover … just as U.S. citizens did during the cold-war era atomic bomb drills. In addition to alerting students to danger, perhaps the blast of such a siren immediately following the first two murders on VA Tech's campus would have frightened the killer sufficiently to stop him in his tracks, thus preventing his next killing spree and giving the police time to secure every building on campus." — Mary (LSU Mom, Lafayette, LA)
"Attempting to notify a campus, school, or community of potential or obvious danger is impossible via emails, cell phones, megaphones, or word of mouth. It just can't work. In our community, like many other communities, we have a loud alarm/siren that sounds a piercing alarm and can be heard for miles when weather threatens the safety of the surrounding areas. One can hear it and immediately knows to take cover and/or turn on TV or radio for further information. Also, as part of the student orientation each semester, students could be informed what to listen for if the alarms are sounded. People en route will also hear it. All citizens in the surrounding area would know something is wrong and that there is a threat on campus." — Pat
"It's virtually impossible to lock down a campus such as VT. The simple solution for campus security is to install notification signs that are currently used on freeways to notify you of accidents, Amber alerts, traffic etc. Place these at all entrances. Place something similar but much smaller in areas throughout the campus. Use for security purposes and other times of important messages to students and staff. You can't count on e-mail or text messages. This would be something everyone would get the message both arriving at campus or already on campus." — Wally & Janice
"We need group training in colleges for how students and teachers can work together in defense when being attacked by someone or multiple people with weapons. The day of individual training for defense tactics is over. If only one person in a room where multiple people are being attacked must work alone, only the one person with defense knowledge can act. However, if groups of people are trained to act together, then the chances of survival can be greater. In addition, people are not left defenseless from a lack of thinking to draw on when responding to an attack. We need to be proactive in changing the thinking of being defenseless. Defenseless comes from not having any strategy in how to respond, except for the thinking of we'll have to wait for the cops to get here or some other agency to get here so that we can be saved. The solution of group defense training is not a cure all, but it is a practical, effective step to empower law abiding citizens." — Tonya (Ohio College Graduate Student)
"I don't feel that gun control is the answer. The answer is responding to the warning signs, we seem to always see, before an incident like this happens. Cho is much like other shooters we have seen in the past, he was a very disturbed and deranged individual and until we change our thinking that public safety is more important than individual rights, we will continue to have such senseless violence in our country. We cannot take guns out of the hands of every person in America but we can take guns out of the hands of disturbed and deranged individuals." — WW