Local News

Virginia Tech Report Spurs Action by N.C. Campuses

Posted August 30, 2007 10:18 p.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2007 11:31 p.m. EDT

— Some N.C. State students, back on campus for the first time since the Virginia Tech shootings last spring, have noticed a difference in campus security.

“I noticed more security trucks. The emergency phones are everywhere nowadays,” said student Jonathan Lunn.

“I feel comfortable, more cops around and more security,” said student Joseph Randolph.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said he wants campuses in this state to learn from the Virginia Tech tragedy. He asked his Task Force on University Safety to discuss a report, disclosed Wednesday night, that looked at how VT handled its tragedy and what it might have done differently as events were unfolding there.

Meanwhile, universities have already taken steps to make their students safer. One such measure is a brochure school officials handed out to students this year. It's a safety pamphlet about the university's crisis plan in case of a mass emergency like the shootings at Virginia Tech.

It's all part of an effort to keep N.C. State and other North Carolina college campuses safe.

N.C. State officials said they are looking at using text messages and a siren system.

“We found, here on our campus, we can send out an e-mail alert in an instant. But by the time it filters out to all 31,000 students, plus our 8,000 faculty and staff, it could take up to two hours,” said Capt. Jon Barnwell, with NCSU police.

The attorney general has homed in on the portion of the Virginia Tech report that focused on the shooter's mental health problems. Cooper said he wants the task force to look at state and federal laws on mental health laws and propose ways to tweak them, if necessary.

“We owe it to our students to plan for the unthinkable,” Cooper said, “to make sure that educators and law enforcement understand the laws and are able to report this information about potentially violent students.”

Based on what Cooper said, UNC-Greensboro sent a letter to its faculty and staff about ways to recognize troubled students.

UNC-Wilmington added a component to its freshman orientation this year. East Carolina University implemented a safety-alert method of contacting students and parents.

Cooper’s task force plans to meet Sept. 11.