A look at campus safety

In light of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, campus security has become a highly discussed topic among students and faculty nationwide.

UNA has an established policy for all types of emergency situations, which can be found on the university’s website.

Junior Danielle Deese said the university’s policy should be more accessible to students.

“I think it would be smart to make (the policy) a requirement on the syllabus for each teacher just like they are required to have information about Title IX and the Academic Policy,” she said.

The Student Government Association is taking steps toward making Deese’s idea into a reality. In their weekly meeting March 1, SGA senate discussed ways to improve campus safety in an active shooter situation.

Chief of University Police Kevin Gillilan said the campus is equipped with several types of safety features.

“The UNA campus features in excess of 500 surveillance cameras in public, academic and residential areas,” he said. “Surveillance cameras may dissuade criminal incidents in some cases, but have proven most beneficial during criminal investigations.”

Gillilan said several of the buildings on campus are equipped with controlled access doorways which can be secured as needed.

He also said the UNA police recently received a grant to acquire emergency door locks to place in doorways lacking controlled access.

The campus also has many ways for students to contact the police quickly. There are emergency blue poles placed all over the campus that can contact police at the touch of a button. UNA offers personal alert devices that can notify police in the event of an emergency at the cost of a subscription. UNA police also have the ability to send notifications through the e-mail, voice and text message system Lion Alert.

Gillilan said UNA police are prepared to deal with any emergency situation.

“UNA police have always trained for such events and continue to operate with such a threat in mind,” he said. “UNA police attend ongoing training in this area and have attended Active Shooter Response Courses at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.  Early detection and threat assessments are critical in the prevention of campus violence.”

Senior Alycia Sanders said students should be better educated in how to appropriately respond to emergency situations. Sanders said drills should be required around campus to be better prepared if an emergency were to occur.

Gillilan said crime can happen anytime.

“UNA is a safe campus and the occurrence of violent crimes are rare, however; crime can and does occur anywhere,” he said. “One of the best ways to avoid becoming a victim of crime is to practice situational awareness, report suspicious activity to law enforcement, and by educating yourself.”