"E-mail and voicemail can only reach so many people in a short amount of time," said Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Special Assistant to the President Maureen Massaro. "We wanted to ensure that we were using any and all avenues to communicate with our campus in the event of an emergency situation."
The efforts to extend the university's communications capabilities are part of a wider campus safety plan. Wittenberg's police and security staff, including 11 certified, armed police officers and five security officers, have extensive training and have developed detailed emergency response procedures for a variety of situations. They can be found online by clicking here.
"The events at Virginia Tech last spring made all of us in higher education review our efforts at preventing such a tragedy," said Carl Loney, Wittenberg chief of police and security. "Having this new form of communication available is just one more way for us to protect the campus."
Already a leader in the community on crime prevention techniques, the university's police officers hosted an emergency response training session, conducted by the North American SWAT Training Association for members of local law and Fire Rescue agencies. Loney said the session included classroom instruction and practice scenarios in campus residence halls. While no amount of training and simulation can prepare university officials for every situation, he added, these types of exercises provide a basic structure for responding to the unforeseen.
These efforts mimic other statewide safety reviews. Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland ordered a review of campus safety at the state's colleges and universities, so Wittenberg participated in the Summit on Ohio College Campus and Security hosted by the Ohio Board of Regents.
The text messaging service, which is optional (but strongly encouraged) for faculty, staff and students, allows university officials to quickly communicate with the entire campus community. A message – including a limited number of characters – can be transmitted to thousands of cell phones in a matter of minutes.
"This is another tool, and it is something that fits with the student culture," Massaro said. "This is a way for us to instantly get messages out."
The university's review is not complete. Loney said his staff continues to investigate other safety options and procedures to make sure that every possible method of communicating emergency information is available on the Wittenberg campus.
"We take security very seriously at Wittenberg," Loney said. "We do the best we can to protect the Wittenberg community."
Written By: Ryan Maurer
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