Security Continues to Be A Focus on College Campuses


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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Campus security at colleges and universities changed across the country after the tragedy at Virginia Tech seven years ago. Now, campuses use complex emergency management systems to prepare and practice for emergencies.

If there was an emergency at Eastern Mennonite University, you would hear sirens coming from radios that are installed in every building on campus.

"College campuses are a big place where things can happen," said junior Erin Rheinheimer, who feels safe on her campus.

After 2007, the university put a layered emergency notification system in place for hostile shooter situations.

"Sexual abuse or violence or weather phenomenon or anything, I mean it's a very vulnerable place so having those things in place is very important," said Rheinheimer.

Along with the radios, there are also signs around campus with how to handle an emergency. The campus also holds an annual drill. Besides the drills, EMU has not had to use its system.

"Definitely concerned about the safety and well-being of everyone that's on campus," said David Emswiler, EMU's Campus Safety Coordinator.

If there is an emergency, the sirens activate and an emergency message plays.

"Generally well prepared. We've never had to enact any of those safety procedures while I've been here," said Rheinheimer.

At Bridgewater College an alarm goes off from Blue Ridge Hall. Similar to EMU, students and parents who register will get an e-mail and text message in an emergency. Police also do active shooter drills.

After what happened at Virginia Tech, Bridgewater College spokeswoman Abbie Parkhurst said things changed.

"You can never be too prepared and I think that's something that Virginia Tech taught all of us," said Parkhurst, "What we learned is, it can happen."

Parkhurst also said because of the tragedy, everyone is much more aware of campus safety.

At EMU, there is also a threat assessment team and if something happens, they quickly meet and decide the next step to take.


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