Kent State reviews security measures

Tim Magaw

Since the Virginia Tech shootings, Kent State’s administration has been evaluating its own security measures in case a similar event or other disaster were to strike this campus.

David Creamer, senior vice president for administration, said members of the university administration have discussed campus security on a one-on-one basis with each other and in a meeting with President Lester Lefton and his cabinet. Creamer also said the administration has put together a committee to evaluate the university’s security issues, which will meet for the first time today.

“This is a fairly common practice for us,” Creamer said. “Following 9/11, we did the same thing even though that attack wasn’t on a university campus.”

He said the committee is going to look at some of the security issues that have come up since the shootings and apply them to Kent State’s emergency procedures.

Lefton said Kent State’s Emergency Management Plan, which outlines the university’s procedure for responding to various emergencies, is already one of the stronger ones in the nation.

“We’re far better off than most universities in emergency management plans and crisis communication,” he said. “But we don’t just want to be better. We want to be the best.”

The Emergency Management Plan was last signed by President Emeritus Carol Cartwright and James Peach, director of public safety, in 2004. However, Creamer and Lefton both said small updates have been made since then, including updating phone numbers and the lines of communication.

Creamer said if a crisis were to take place on this campus, the university would send out a message to an alarm-monitoring system located at a central place in each building. Each of these buildings have “curators” that pass the message about the emergency to the rest of the building.

Creamer said the technology of the alarm, which was introduced after the Sept. 11 attacks, is similar to that of a portable CB radio. Each alarm looks similar to a telephone pager with a small speaker.

Lefton said the university is looking into adding an auditory warning system on each floor of every building, which would send out messages about impending emergencies. These would be similar to those used in hotels, he added.

He said the university is still in the discussion stages about the addition of this measure.

“While we’re not implementing this, we’re exploring how much it would cost and how effective it would be,” Lefton said.

One the issues that arose after the Virginia Tech shootings was the lack of locks on classroom doors. Creamer said he believes all the classroom doors on campus have locks, but the faculty members don’t always have keys to the doors for a variety of reasons. For example, Creamer said because faculty members teach in so many different rooms, giving them keys for each one would be unmanageable, especially because many of the buildings still don’t use electronic locks.

Creamer said because there would be so many keys issued, it could also create a security issue.

“These kinds of issues from the Virginia Tech situation are the kinds of things we’ll be looking at,” he said, adding the committee will be looking at mostly “what makes sense.”

Contact administration reporter Tim Magaw at [email protected].