Massachusetts public colleges and universities have been slow to adopt widely accepted security practices since last year’s Virginia Tech massacre, in many cases failing to apply basic measures, says a critical study reported by the Boston Globe that calls for sweeping changes across the state system to avert campus violence. The report cited numerous safety deficiencies across the state system and urged the 29 public colleges to take immediate steps to rectify them.
Most state colleges do not use security cameras, have gun-carrying police officers, or train faculty and staff to recognize troubled students and employees. Only a handful have conducted vulnerability assessments, and one-third do not have arrangements with local law enforcement to respond to emergencies. “Having a threat assessment team is an absolute no-brainer, and it could be done tomorrow,” said Daniel O’Neill of Applied Risk Management, a security consultant. “That single recommendation would save the greatest amount of lives.” State Board of Higher Education member Nancy Harrington, former president of Salem State College, supports mandated state policies, adding that inaction is too risky. “This is an enormously dangerous issue,” she said. “It’s like holding a firecracker and waiting for it to explode.”