Dear Ball State campus community:
The Ball State community is saddened by the tragic, almost incomprehensible events that unfolded yesterday at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Those of us who participate in university life are connected in making the most of human potential and pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with our colleagues and friends at Virginia Tech. Counseling services are available to students at the Counseling Center and to employees through the Employee Assistance Program.
I personally take the care and safety of our students, faculty and staff very seriously. Public college campuses, like our government buildings, are designed to be open and accessible. Nonetheless, we have procedures, response teams, and communications protocols in place to mitigate and communicate in response to such an event on the Ball State campus.
Examples of our commitment to your safety start with our campus police, who are fully-sworn, academy-trained officers. They routinely attend specialized training for emergencies on college campuses, including the very type of incident that occurred at VT. Our residence halls, meanwhile, are locked 24 hours a day with electronic card access and their front desk staff are trained for emergency situations. There are well-marked emergency call boxes spread across campus. We also have a campus crisis response team that meets monthly to update crisis protocols for a number of contingencies and tests them through practice exercises.
Please let me remind you of how we will handle communications during an emergency where there is a clear and present danger. Most immediately, we would utilize our outdoor emergency warning sirens to notify the campus that there is an emergency. More specific information could then be found through multiple communication avenues including Muncie radio and television outlets, at www.bsu.edu and in e-mail. Word-of-mouth and campus telephones also would be used. We are in the initial stages of investigating opt-in broadcast text messaging to cell phones for these situations, and I have asked our communications and technology staff to accelerate that project.
Our reliance on cell phones and e-mail is evidenced in Monday's events. The VT Web server was incapacitated for nearly two hours because of incoming information requests and the cell phone service was also compromised for a time because of service loads. n these crises our campus should turn to all forms of communication, including local radio and TV.
While we take a great many steps to ensure your safety, please remember that we are a community. Each member must be vigilant by remaining aware of his or her surroundings, reporting suspicious activity, ensuring someone knows of his or her whereabouts, and knowing how to get the information needed in emergency situations. I encourage you to review the campus safety tips that we have on our Web site at www.bsu.edu/police.
Unfortunately, there is no single answer to eliminating these threats. However, careful planning, training, and preparedness combined with personal vigilance will help protect our university family from such senseless acts.
Jo Ann Gora