Safety becomes priority for campus officials

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With rumors of suspicious activity and terrorism threats circulating in the area, Dixie State University administrators comment on what is being done to protect students on campus.

On Aug. 19, a white van with California license plates raised suspicion among citizens and parents in St. George. More information on the incident can be found here. The two suspects posed no threat and have since been apprehended in southern California.

“It’s never over,” said Ron Isaacson, assistant director of security and campus police.

While the hype of the notorious van has died down, some questions still remain: What’s the procedure during an emergency situation on campus? How can students feel safe? 

The basic procedure goes like this: Once the campus security officials are notified of a potential attack, they use careful discretion before it’s released to students. If the matter is serious enough, it must be approved through the president or vice president before an alert is sent to the student body.

So where exactly can you find the updated status of an emergency situation on campus? If you have already installed the Dixie State University app on your phone, you’re off to a good start. But for Dean of Students Del Beatty, this wasn’t good enough. 

“We subscribe to a Honeywell system that allows us to send important information immediately to everyone on campus,” Beatty said. “There is not one set protocol because every situation is different. We do training on it, and all authorized personnel have individual codes that activate the alert.”

The system offers a set of pre-programmed messages that when sent, immediately deliver a text message, phone call and an email to each student and faculty member. The television screens across campus are also updated with a description of the emergency and instructions.

The system also gives students instructions to text back with a single digit or word, keeping officials updated on whether they are safe, if they have seen the shooter, or any information on the potential threat.

“Update your address, email and phone number online,” Beatty said. “As long as your information is updated, we can ensure a safer campus.”

Students can update their information at anytime by logging onto My Dixie and editing their personal information.

“We can never go overboard when it comes to security on campus,” said Don Reid, director of security and campus police.

In the seven years following the Virginia Tech massacre, Reid has implemented many high intensity training activities for his officers, has purchased over $100,000 in security cameras, has secured the mass alert system, and even received a Homeland Security Grant. Faculty members are also trained on classroom protocol.

All students have the ability to do their part to stay safe. 

“If you can escape, run.” Reid said. “Barricade yourself if necessary, and most importantly, fight back no matter what.”