Flagler focuses on alerting students

Photo by Danielle Marsh
Dean of Student Services Dan Stewart said student safety in relation to the high volume of tourists at Flagler is a frequently discussed topic within the administration. After the recent Northern Illinois University campus shootings, the administration is encouraging students to participate in the e2 Campus alert system.

Campus safety, e2 Campus system back in spotlight after NIU shooting

By Brittany Hackett | bhackett@flagler.edu

Flagler College administration hopes changes and improvements to security on campus will help prevent a tragedy like the Northern Illinois University shooting two weeks ago.

According to Joe Provenza, director of technology services, the e2 Campus system is a way to alert as many people as possible to an emergency situation on campus.

He said the system cannot prevent a tragedy like NIU from happening. However, it could minimize the impact should a similar situation occur and help protect students.

The text messaging system was introduced last fall. It allows registered students, faculty and staff to receive a text message from the college in the event of an emergency. The system is free to students, and Provenza said they can only benefit from the service.

“What I really like about this system is that it allows you to sign up three more destinations for a message,” Provenza said.

These additional destinations can be e-mail addresses or cell phone numbers of people from outside the college.

On Feb. 14, former NIU student Steven Kazmierczak, 27, opened fire in a lecture hall, killing five students and injuring 22 others before killing himself. The shootings took place shortly after 3 p.m. The campus was placed under lock down and police were on the scene within minutes.

Authorities in Dekalb, Ill., still have not determined a motive in the killings.

Dean of Student Services Dan Stewart said he compared NIU’s response to the shootings to how Flagler would respond if a similar situation would occur.

After last year’s Virginia Tech shooting, which left 33 dead, the St. Augustine Police Department came to speak to the administration about how they would respond if a similar situation were to happen at Flagler.

According to Stewart, the St. Augustine Police Department conducts yearly reviews of the campus’ security.

“They give us a complete, written report every year,” Stewart said. “And we respond to that report and literally hit everything in that report.”

Stewart said the most common issues in the report involve lighting and campus grounds maintenance.
The college also has a loud speaker hooked up to the Carillon System in the bell towers on campus. Stewart said the system has been tested for emergency weather announcements, but it did not reach all areas of campus. They are in the process of correcting that problem.

A major concern of students is the constant stream of tourists who visit the college every year.

According to the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce website, an estimated 6.5 million visitors come to St. Augustine each year. Approximately 36,000 people tour the campus through the Flagler’s Legacy tours each year.

Stewart said student safety with regard to the high volume of tourists who visit the campus is an issue administration debates “every so often.”

According to Stewart, the college must grant access to tourists because of some of the grants Flagler has received in the past.

“Trying to limit the tours to twice a day during the school year, as opposed to the hourly tours in the summer does provide some additional control of the tourists and therefore less access to the students,” Stewart said in an e-mail.

Stewart said the I.D. card swipe system in the residence halls, particularly the Ponce dormitories, add additional security in the main area where tourists are allowed.

Stewart said the e2 Campus system is the biggest tool the administration has to notify students if an emergency occurs on campus.

The system was initially intended for general administration announcements, according to Provenza. But after last year’s Virginia Tech shooting, the administration decided to use it only in emergencies to ensure the messages would be taken seriously.

Provenza said there are currently 550 to 600 people registered for the e2 Campus system. Stewart said the college would like for all students to be registered.

“On a small campus like this I believe 30 to 40 percent is good because word of mouth is going to get the point of it more, but still you’d like everybody signed up,” Stewart said.

Marc Chasanoff, a 20-year-old junior, said he was not aware of the e2 Campus system but thinks it’s a great idea for the college.

“I think it’s the best way to communicate with students effectively,” Chasanoff said.

He said he does not check his e-mail often and thinks the system would be able to reach on- and off-campus students at the same time.

Jerae Forde, a 19-year-old sophomore, said she was told about the system during orientation her freshman year. She says she has never felt the need to sign up because she feels comfortable on campus.

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