Safety efforts increasing on campus

Campus safety is something UVa-Wise officials take seriously.

With reports of missing and dead students in colleges around the country, security measures have been brought to a new level of intensity recently.

UVa-Wise has been right on track, if not a little ahead, of the mandatory Title IX and Clery Act modified training, campus police said.

Title IX and the Clery Act are federal man- dates that help ensure equal and fair treatment of opportunities as well as full disclosure of any crimes so that people can make informed deci- sions about where they want to go to school. Both have been emphasized heavily lately, par- ticularly in relation to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan to take more stringent action in relation to sexual assault.

One of the efforts in place to ensure campus safety is the campus Crisis Management Team that has monthly meetings and training sessions to stay on top of every potential situation.

Kathy Still, director of news and media re- lations, had plenty to say on the efforts being made to keep the students of UVa-Wise safe.

“We consider this campus family, and we look after family,” Still said.

The team has been around since before the new regulations arose.

The steps taken in an emergency are to put campus safety first, according to Still and other members of the team.

The first thing that is done in the event of an emergency is police use the emergency alert

system to get the message out, said Campus Po- lice Sgt. Kevin Yates.

The two types of alert used are the immedi- ate alert and the timely notice. The first is used typically when campus is thought to be in po- tential danger and the second when the threat is less severe.

The immediate alert has to go out in a matter

of minutes in order to ensure the safety of every- one involved, Still said. She said the message might not always be pretty and may even be as simple as “hunker down.”

One upcoming feature that is going to be used to assist in campus safety is an app called “In Case of Crisis.”

The app, available for both iPhone and An- droid services, does not have an official release date, but is free, interactive and acts similarly to the Amber Alert system.

The members of the Crisis Management Team and Campus Police both work around the clock to maintain the integrity of the campus and, as the gunman hoax of 2013 showed, go into action at the first sign of danger.

UVa-Wise was briefly sent into lockdown in late January 2013 because a student claimed there was a gunman on campus. Police discov- ered that was not the case, and a student admit- ted to police the story was made up. Yates said there a few things students can do to make sure they stay safe in the event of a crisis.

“Heed warnings,” he said. “Pay attention to notices and don’t go outside in the event of an emergency. Make it as difficult as possible for someone to make you an easy target.” One thing that can hinder the investigation of a crisis, said Yates, is the use of social media.

“If we are trying to track a threatening per- son down and there are people out there tweet- ing about us passing their room, it both puts us in danger and breaks the advantage of our si- lence,” Yates said.

Whether a student, professor or a member of the crisis team, both Yates and Still said it is everyone’s job to help keep campus safe.

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