Congressional act spurs university to pursue new campus safety measures

Kelly Byer

Kent State recently implemented a new missing student protocol aimed at increasing campus safety.

Residence Services Director Betsy Joseph said the U.S. Congress amended the Higher Education Act and implemented certain requirements for universities.

“The Higher Education Act was approved in August, and it now requires all institutions who have housing programs to notify students of their right to provide the university with an emergency contact information in the event that they would be reported missing,” Joseph said.

Because of recent incidents at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois universities, Joseph said she thinks this is another way universities are increasing their emergency responsiveness.

“I am certain that this was done because of the continued concern about safety on campus,” Joseph said.

The contact information will be kept confidential, and only certain people will be given access to it.

“It would have to be someone who has legitimate reason to have access to that information to identify if there was an emergency contact,” Joseph said. “We would only use it in the event that a student was missing or if there was a serious injury and we needed to make contact.”

Joseph said the information would also be used if a student was seriously injured or transported to a hospital.

The residence hall staff have been trained in the past for a variety of situations, including a missing student, Joseph said.

“We have procedures that are in place already, and this just sort of builds on that,” Joseph said.

Greg Jarvie, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said the information is optional and self-reported. Because of that, students don’t always do it.

“I think what we need to do is we need to do a better job in getting students to understand the seriousness of that,” Jarvie said.

A FlashLine message recently notified on-campus students of the new legislation and encouraged them to provide contact information.

Dave Shultz, freshman visual communication design major, said he listed his parents as contacts when he had to change his campus e-mail address. He received the FlashLine message but had his roommate tell him what it contained.

“I didn’t read it,” Shultz said. “It didn’t affect me in any way.”

Robyn Yeager, sophomore early childhood development major, said she thinks she would have listed contact information her freshman year when it is recommended.

“I don’t know though,” Yeager said.

Although Jarvie said emergency contact information isn’t used often, it’s essential when it is used.

“The important thing, though, to remember is, when we do need it, that’s when it becomes critical,” Jarvie said. “It’s one of those things you don’t realize how important it is until you use it.”

Contact safety reporter Kelly Byer at [email protected].