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College seeks input on campus security

Sept. 24, 2011 at 4:24 a.m.


On Wednesday, Sept. 21, a terrible event occurred on the VC campus - one that could have been the gravest of tragedies. An armed man came on our campus and opened fire on a group of students and employees. No one was hit by this gunfire, and the gunman was quickly apprehended.

This incident put our emergency alert and response systems to the test, and, by and large, our measures appear to have worked. VC Police and security officers, along with the Victoria Police and the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, performed their duties admirably. Many college staff put in extra effort to keep clear communications flowing and to keep everyone safe and calm.

In spite of many things having worked well - as they should have - it is clear that we were also incredibly lucky.

The nature of a college campus is that it is open. This openness, which we all cherish, also makes us vulnerable. In this case, the person who opened fire was not a student or even someone with business on campus. It is in this context of openness that we strive to develop safety and security practices to guard against those rare events that we all know can happen - that indeed did happen - but that we hope will never happen.

Student and employee safety is our highest priority. We are now in the process of analyzing our emergency alert and response system and considering what we can do better to ensure the safety of students, employees and the community. In spite of the success of our systems, I know we can do better.

Key administrators at the college are continuing to investigate the areas where we may be vulnerable and where we can improve, along with making recommendations for change. We also invited our employees and students to participate in this discussion and are taking all comments and suggestions into account as we move forward with revising our emergency alert and response system.

If you have ideas that you believe we should consider, or even just concerns, we want to hear from you. Please send an email to Jennifer Yancey, vice president of college advancement and external affairs, at Jennifer.yancey@victoriacollege.edu. Or phone her at 361-582-2519. We owe it to our students, all our employees and the community to work together to make the VC campus even safer in the future.

We also want the community to be aware that we're sensitive to those who may be continuing to experience fear or anxiety in the wake of this incident. All students and employees, particularly those who were directly affected, have been encouraged to seek counseling services available on campus, and our friends at the Gulf Bend Center generously made counseling services available to them.

Tom Butler is president of Victoria College.

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