Roanoke College supports national center for campus safety - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke College supports national center for campus public safety

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Leaders are pushing for a way for higher education schools to work together to share ideas to keep students safe.

Senator Mark Warner is re-introducing the CAMPUS Safety Act. It would consolidate existing federal campus safety programs into a national center, giving colleges and universities a central location to share information, research and training to help keep schools safer.

Electronic key card access to dorm rooms, blue emergency phones and campus alerts sent by text message, email and over social media are just some of the security measures put in place over the last few years at Roanoke College.

"You're trying to anticipate and mitigate crisis before they happen" said Tom Turner, the Roanoke College director of campus safety, who has worked at the school for 29 years.

He says many national safety initiatives focus on kindergarten through twelfth grade, not colleges and it's been up to them to learn new ways to keep students safe.

"I think having a national center can bring all that information together and have one clearing house and would be very useful" said Turner.

By bringing together higher ed schools from across the country, they'll be able to learn what safety measures work and what don't especially for colleges with similar sizes.

"Nobody wants to send their son or daughter to an institution that's kind of tried to figure this out on their own, you would want them to know what the best practices are" said Dr. Gene Zdziarski, Roanoke College dean of students, who says this isn't a new idea.

Dr. Zdziarski has been on Department of Education task forces in the past that wanted the same thing.

"I think we do as well as we can, but if we were involved in a collective effort nationally it would not only improve Roanoke College but it would improve crisis response for campuses across the country" said Dr. Zdziarski.

Virginia Tech Associate Vice President for University Relations Larry Hincker tells WSLS campus alerts didn't exist before their tragedy in 2007 and it's become common across the country since. Lessons learned from the shooting also helped pave the way for school threat assessment teams, something that was just being developed at the time.

"Anything to improve communication makes sense" says Hincker about the proposed CAMPUS Safety Act.

The hope is this latest proposed safety measure will take cross country communication one step further.

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