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In light of Virginia Tech tragedy, Wake Forest reviews crisis plan, security measures

April 16, 2007

In light of the deadly shootings today (April 16 ) at Virginia Tech, Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch has directed Wake Forest officials to review Wake Forest’s own plan for responding to crises and the university’s security measures in place to protect the campus community.

In addition, officials at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have been checking on the status of students, faculty and staff involved with the joint Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. Few details about the school were available to Wake Forest officials Monday afternoon, but they were able to verify that none of the school’s students based at Wake Forest were on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus today.

In a letter sent to Virginia Tech President Charles Steger today, Hatch said, “When the unimaginable happens, as it did on your campus today, our collective vulnerability looms large. Because of the special relationships that exist between our two universities—through our biomedical engineering program as well as our ACC competition—this tragedy weighs especially heavily on the hearts of Wake Foresters.”

Hatch also offered help from Wake Forest, including the services of counseling faculty and staff, some of whom worked in New York after 9/11 and in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The Wake Forest Crisis Management Team met this afternoon to discuss the Virginia Tech tragedy, review the crisis management plan and discuss related security matters. The team is led by Kenneth A. Zick, vice president for student life and instructional resources, and is comprised of members representing departments campus-wide, including University Police, the Student Health Service, the University Counseling Center, Facilities Management and others.

Wake Forest has a crisis management plan that is regularly updated. The plan is designed, in part, to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, as well as the surrounding community. Wake Forest’s crisis management team is designated as the university’s primary decision-making body for responding to crisis situations, under the direction of Wake Forest’s president.

“We have a plan in place that has been carefully and thoughtfully designed to respond to the sorts of crisis situations that might occur on a university campus,” Hatch said Monday afternoon. “Our team is well prepared to carry out our plan. Regina Lawson, chief of the university’s police department, said that the university has been following the events at Virginia Tech closely today.

“We will carefully examine what has occurred at Virginia Tech this week and look for anything that might suggest ways to bolster current security measures in place and respond to crisis situations at Wake Forest,” Lawson said.

“For many years, we have maintained a full-scale, professional police force that is dedicated 24 hours a day, seven days a week to preventing crime and protecting the people of our university community,” Lawson added. “No community is immune from the possibility of crime, but at Wake Forest we take substantial measures to protect against it.”

Through the years, the university has taken various measures to enhance security, including posting officers nightly at entrances to the university’s Reynolda Campus. The campus has three entrances, all gated. At 10 each night, one entrance is closed and two others are staffed.

Wake Forest’s president sent a campus-wide e-mail reminding students of support services that are available to them should they want to speak with someone regarding the attacks at Virginia Tech. Those services include the University Counseling Center, the Campus Ministry Office and the Office of the Chaplain. In that same e-mail, which was circulated to faculty and staff also, Hatch announced that Wake Forest is also organizing a service of remembrance for the Virginia Tech victims that will be held later this week in Wait Chapel. A date and time have not yet been set.

Press Contacts:

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237

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