At colleges around the country this summer, one topic has vaulted to the top of the agenda at freshman orientation: campus safety, reports USA Today. The nation’s first incoming freshmen since last spring’s shootings at Virginia Tech are heading to class soon, and colleges have been fielding more questions from parents and students about security and mental health issues. Some, like Binghamton University in New York, have added or augmented some orientation sessions – expanding time devoted entirely to campus safety.
Others, such as Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania, are explaining new mass text-message systems put in place to help reach students and parents quickly in an emergency, be it a situation like the Virginia Tech shooting spree or a scenario such as a fire or chemical spill. Colleges say they don’t want to scare parents but want to convey they take security seriously. Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas used to refer students and parents to the school’s emergency response plan. This year, the campus police chief briefed orientation leaders to prepare them for questions, and spoke directly to parents as well.