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College News

Message Regarding Virginia Tech Tragedy from Catawba College President

April 19, 2007

Category: Academics


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In Memory Virginia Tech
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The horrendous and tragicEvents which occurred April 16th on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., remind us at Catawba College that life is precious, our time together fleeting and the assurance of our safety on campus involves each of us. As time passes and distances us from this tragedy, it also makes us more aware of the suffering of the families and friends of the Virginia Tech victims. We hold them in our hearts and prayers.

At Catawba, our students, faculty and staff came together Tuesday, April 17 in a prayer vigil for the Virginia Tech community during our weekly campus worship service. Our Student Life staff provided another opportunity for our community members to reach out to our colleagues at Virginia Tech through the signing of a Catawba Cares banner. The banner, when filled with written condolences and messages of support, will be mailed to Virginia Tech as a tangible show of our support. Today, April 19th, as the ;

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Catawba Cares
entire Catawba College community gathered for the annual awards convocation, Campus Chaplain Dr. Ken Clapp led us in a moment of silent prayer for the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy and the loved ones they left behind.

While we remember those who have been lost in the Virginia Tech tragedy, it also serves to remind us of our own potential vulnerabilities as a college community and of the need for our continued vigilance even in times of seeming calm on our campus. As an administration, we have begun our annual review of the College's crisis intervention plan, in place since 2002.   This plan outlines the College's response to a wide variety of different emergency situations, from tornadoes and hazardous materials spills to a shooting on campus.

In addition to the annual update of this crisis plan, Catawba has a number of systems and protocols in place to assure the safety and security of our community members. These include:

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  • Our N.C. state-certified Public Safety Department, trained in rapid response protocols, which patrols the campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This department's communications system is tied directly into local police and fire department communication channels and allows instantaneous and two-way notification of emergencies. Additionally, we enjoy a wonderful working relationship with both Salisbury Police and Fire Departments. The Salisbury Fire Department even has a satellite office located on campus, housed in the Jann House with our Public Safety offices.

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  • A multi-prong communication system which utilizes campus broadcast e-mails, the College website, the campus telephone system, telephone trees, building alarms and building captains which allow for speedy evacuation. We also have call boxes strategically located on campus and many buildings on our campus are equipped with card access security systems.  

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  • A professional and caring health center  staff which includes a physician and two registered nurses.  

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  • An experienced and understanding counseling staff committed to the well-being and success of our students and community members.  

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  • A seasoned and well-trained crisis response team in place which includes administrators familiar with the Catawba community and campus as well as the local community.  

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  • A small campus with buildings and facilities in close proximity allows for better security and easier communication in a time of crisis. Our size also makes it easier for members of our community to know and recognize each other.  
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Catawba Cares Banner
Members of our crisis response team and administrators are exploring additional ways we can enhance security on our campus. Some ideas now under consideration include adding new and upgraded call boxes to those already in place on campus; implementing an audible alarm system utilizing the Chapel's bell tower and the loudspeaker system in the football stadium; exploring the addition of phones with voice mail capability in each dorm room; contracting with an outside vendor to send simultaneous phone messages to all students, faculty, staff and parents in the event of a crisis; and enhanced locks for the classrooms.

While no actions taken now can undo the tragicEvents that occurred at Virginia Tech, it is important that all of us in higher education explore every means possible to secure our campuses to the maximum extent that they can be secured. Given the open nature of our society and our higher educational institutions, we can never eliminate all risks to the security of students, faculty and staff, but we can be constantly vigilant for ways to improve our security and prevent, as much as possible, similar occurrences on our own campuses.

Catawba College President Robert Knott
4-19-07

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