Thursday, December 1, 2011

Students disagree over key card policy, outdoor safety during threat to campus

Students disagree over key card policy, outdoor safety during threat to campus

By Rebecca Turcotte, Guest Writer

The current policy at Pacific Lutheran University during a lockdown is to cut key card access into campus buildings. Campus Safety created this policy to ensure safety and comfort for students and staff on campus. The removal of card access during a lockdown is for protection in case of a possible threat.

Students should know the access and limitations to their buildings on campus, and if an emergency does occur, they should know the proper areas in which to hide or wait if locked outside.

“The purpose of a lockdown is to try and safeguard as many people as possible,” Campus Safety Director Greg Premo said. “The majority of lockdown situations are for violent acts and the violent acts that are on campus are by students or somebody associated with the campus itself.

Premo said the policy of disabling key card access is relatively new and helps control who enters buildings during a lockdown procedure.

“The policy is more of a practice and lockdown practices are always evolving,”

If a lockdown occurs, Campus Safety and Information sends PLU Alert text messages to students to make them aware that a lockdown is occurring and that they should hide or move themselves to a secure area.

“If you are caught outside, which is one of the most uncomfortable places to be during a lockdown,think where you need to go to be safe, and it is not always inside,” Premo said. “Maybe it’s going to your car and driving off campus, or going up to the bookstore and getting a coffee.”

Students locked out of campus buildings during a lockdown should hide in bushes or trees or leave campus if there is a serious threat.

First-year Miki Yamamoto said “If they leave students outside, you’re just putting then in just as much danger as students trying to get in and out.”

Yamamoto also said that she and her friends “felt that anywhere we went, we wouldn’t feel super safe even if it meant we had to go hide in the trees because something could happen there too.”

First-year student Sean Larkin said the policy is a “good thing.”

“If someone with a gun has a key card, you don’t want them to open a door on campus,” Larkin said, “because that kind of defeats the whole purpose of a lockdown.”

For more information on lockdown procedures, visit Campus Safety and Information’s website at http://www.plu.edu/campus-safety. Campus Safety’s Crime Prevention Guide, which can be found on their webpage, contains recommendations for personal safety.

“Report all crimes immediately. In the case of theft or burglary, try not to disturb the scene. The responding deputies may be able to gather evidence if nothing has been disturbed.

Always be alert for suspicious persons in and around buildings and on campus grounds and parking lots. Do not approach them,” the Crime Prevention Guide reads.

Campus Safety encourages students, staff and faculty to “take action immediately” when sensing danger.