Virginia Tech shooting raises questions about UPennAlert
Vice President for the Division of Public Safety Maureen Rush clarified UPennAlert procedures
December 9, 2011, 12:54 am · Updated December 11, 2011, 9:03 pm·
After two people were shot and killed at Virginia Tech on Thursday, Penn’s Division of Public Safety plans to prepare for the possibility of a similar event on campus.
At around 12:15 p.m., a gunman opened fire in a campus parking lot after he was pulled over, killing a Virginia Tech patrol officer. A second person was found dead, whom authorities believe may have been the gunman and may have killed himself.
In response to the incident, DPS will “absolutely” meet with other administrators to discuss “an overarching response to that type of scenario,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.
In 2007, then-senior Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on Virginia Tech’s campus, killing 32 people and wounding 25 others in the deadliest college shooting incident by a single gunman in United States history.
On Thursday, a VT Alert — Virginia Tech’s emergency alert system — was sent to Virginia Tech community members at 12:37 p.m. The message said gun shots had been reported and instructed everyone to stay inside.
Another alert about 10 minutes later included a description of the suspect and where he was last seen.
The Education Department fined Virginia Tech this year for its failure to notify students in a timely manner after the 2007 massacre. Virginia Tech officials appealed a $55,000 fine in Washington on Thursday.
Virginia Tech sophomore Joe Nelson said he was “very pleased” with the way his school handled Thursday’s shooting, having received six alerts. He feels that following the 2007 shooting, “our school has really, really stepped up their security.”
In the case of a shooting on Penn’s campus, a UPennAlert would be sent out “immediately,” Rush added.
The UPennAlert Emergency Notification System alerts students, faculty and staff through text messages, voicemails and emails in the case of an emergency.
DPS, along with sending the UPennAlert, would sound its siren outdoor system, which broadcasts an announcement through speakers all over campus, Rush said.
Penn would have a lockdown and engage with other law enforcement agencies — “just like [Virginia Tech] is doing” — such as University City Public Safety, the Philadelphia Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.