More Money Needed To Make Colleges Safer

Friday, February 15th 2008, 5:38 pm
By: News On 6

A recent report from the governor's office says an additional $16 million is needed to make the state's universities safer.  News On 6 anchor Scott Thompson took a closer look at the report and viewed what the University of Tulsa has planned in case of tragedy.

Security on campus has taken center stage since last April's shooting at Virginia Tech.  It's prompted schools across the country to develop a plan should the unthinkable happen.

More than 4,100 students attend classes at the University of Tulsa. The school says it's constantly reviewing how it keeps those students safe and what do in an emergency.

"We look at emerging situations, we look at past situations, we look at new technology, new information as it becomes available," said Joan Nesbitt, University of Tulsa.

TU's plan includes sending e-mails, updating both its public and internal websites, as well as sending a text message to students who register with the university. The school is also in the process of placing 250 loudspeakers across the 200 acre campus. The loudspeakers will be inside and outside each of the 72 buildings.

"The loudspeakers were a project we implemented last fall as just one more way to communicate quickly when people are away from their phone or away from their desk," said Nesbitt.

A state-sponsored investigation into post-secondary schools in Oklahoma found several gaps when it comes to campus security.

Some of the findings suggest schools need to keep better records and photographs of students and staff, develop safety plans with the help of local law enforcement, keep a database of students with special

needs or those who require medications, and improve training for faculty and staff to recognize weapons and deal with confrontations.

Officials at TU say training is a regular part of their plan.

"I do know that we ask our students and train our students, faculty, and staff to be aware of their surroundings, to be alert. To notice when something unusual is happening, to notify security if they notice something unusual happening," said Nesbitt

The campus safety report recommended the state develop a standard plan for all universities to follow and that the state regents for higher education perform regular reviews.

These are just recommendations, it's not known if any of them will be put into place.