Despite incident, DePauw students say they feel safe

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Students head to class on DePauw's campus Tuesday. Despite the events that took place at Virginia Tech Monday, DPU students say they feel safe on the Greencastle campus.

Despite the shooting of 32 college students at Virginia Tech Monday, DePauw University senior Betsy Hecker said she feels quite safe on the Greencastle campus.

But Hecker, a native of Grand Rapids, Mich., is well aware that something like that can happen at anytime.

"But I think it can happen anywhere," Hecker said. "It's a scary thought that can happen at any public place, not to mention a college campus."

Fellow DPU student Zach Marquand said he feels safe on campus as well.

"I feel fine on campus," Marquand, 21, Knoxville, Tenn., said Tuesday. "I've never had a problem."

On Monday, Virginia Tech senior Cho Seung-Hui, 23, killed at least 30 people inside a classroom building in what many have called the deadliest shooting rampage in modern United States history.

Monday's tragic events sent shockwaves through campuses statewide.

"It's kind of disbelief," Marquand said. "That was a pretty shocking event."

Despite what took place at Virginia Tech, DePauw officials said they believe they are on top of the safety issue.

"We certainly have emergency response and critical incidents plans," DePauw Director of Public Safety Doug Cox said via e-mail Tuesday.

Cox said if such an incident would take place on the Greencastle campus, the university would "immediately summon the assistance of all local and state agencies."

"Our protocol and procedures are within the concept of 'Critical Incident Command,' as a component of the 'National Incident Management System,'" Cox said.

NIMS was developed by the United states Secretary of Homeland Security at the request of President George W. Bush. According to, NIMS "integrates effective practices in emergency preparedness and response into a comprehensive national framework for incident management."

Essentially, NIMS is supposed to allow responders at all levels to work together more efficiently.

The carnage began early Monday morning on the Virginia Tech campus after two were shot dead in a dormitory.

Several students told media outlets they were unaware of the shooting in the dormitory while others said they received word about possible danger on the campus nearly two hours later via campus-wide e-mail.

Cox told the BannerGraphic Tuesday that DePauw utilizes campus-wide e-mail as well as other safety measures in order to better protect students.

"We utilize electronic card access to control security of our residenence halls and many other areas of campus," Cox said. "We also utilize a network of security cameras both externally and inside various buildings.

"That initiative has grown significantly over the past two years and continues to expand."

In addition, Cox said campus security will use "blast e-mails" and messages via its campus computer network, as well as using "emergency phone trees." Cox also said campus security uses campus radio and a television network as well as public address systems in the DPU patrol cars.

"In a situation like this, we would use all resources to ensure comprehensive communication," Cox said.

Hecker said that while she's studied at DePauw, nothing quite as traumatic as what happened Monday has taken place. However, she said she did remember receiving campus-wide e-mail warnings after a gas station near DePauw had been robbed in addition to remembering receiving more e-mails from campus officials regarding student muggings.

Cox said campus police are trained to handle situations like what happened in Virginia Monday.

"We know that we ar not immune to this type of incident," he said. "We have not faced a situation like this. However, our training, partnership with local agencies, and the engagement of our entire campus community is critical to be alert and report suspicious behavior and warning signs that help achieve a safe environment."

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