Memo from President Simone: Campus safety measures, answers to frequently asked questions; condolences to Virginia Tech
April 18, 2007
by Bob Finnerty
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TO: RIT Community
FROM: Albert J. Simone, President
SUBJECT: Condolences to Virginia Tech and
RIT Campus Security Measures and Frequently Asked Questions
On behalf of Rochester Institute of Technology, I offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Virginia Tech community, and especially to the family and friends of the victims. This is a national tragedy of unimaginable proportions. I am in shock and deeply saddened by the horrific events of April 16. It is difficult to make sense of such a senseless act. We grieve for the victims’ families and friends.
The tragedy at Virginia Tech can happen anywhere at anytime. At RIT, we will continue to work hard to ensure a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty and staff. We must remain vigilant. We must never forget the events of April 16, 2007, in Blacksburg, Va. The higher education community, as well as the nation, will learn from this deadly shooting. We will heal as time passes.
At this time, concerned parents, students, alumni, faculty, staff and students have many questions related to safety on campus. Let me assure the RIT community that our highest priority is to make our campus a safe place to study, live and work. RIT has emergency plans in place for a variety of crisis scenarios. We are certainly reviewing these plans and looking for areas to make them even stronger.
As a reminder, it is also everyone’s responsibility to notify the RIT Public Safety Department if you see suspicious behavior. Public Safety can be reached at (585) 475-2853 (V/TTY).
I urge you to review the “Frequently Asked Questions” below to gain a better understanding of our emergency planning. A toll-free number has also been established if you have further questions: (866) 624-8330 (Voice); (866) 758-1958 (TTY). Staff will be available from 12 to 7 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 18, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 19.
Q: What are RIT’s emergency procedures and protocols?
A: RIT has a tested emergency response plan that can be used to respond to any emergency. It patterns the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s national incident management model. In executing this plan, RIT takes steps to protect the health and welfare of the campus community. RIT Public Safety staff is on campus 24 hours per day. RIT has an established Critical Incident Management Program, which allows for the rapid mobilization of personnel in case of emergencies. This infrastructure involves key leaders on campus and is based on incident command system protocols. It should be noted that RIT works with local law enforcement and governmental agencies in such planning. This includes the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Monroe County Office of Emergency Preparedness. Throughout the year, RIT personnel train on various crisis scenarios.
Q: How are emergency notifications handled at RIT?
A: RIT uses a layered approach to reach the campus community in notifying about emergency situations. These can range from required crime alerts to school closings or class cancellations. Each situation will dictate the nature and method for releasing communications from University News Services. Methods to communicate include both internal channels and external channels. At the start of each quarter, an emergency broadcast alert reminder is sent via e-mail and posted on the MyRIT portal regarding RIT’s emergency communication methods.
Internal RIT channels:
• RIT Message Center: An emergency message is delivered via e-mail and to the MyRIT portal. The entire RIT community (students, faculty, staff) will receive emergency messages via e-mail.
• Web sites: An alert message is posted on the RIT home page (www.rit.edu) and the University News (www.rit.edu/news) and Public Safety (http://finweb.rit.edu/campussafety) home pages.
• Phones: A message is recorded on a “cancellation/emergency hotline”: (585) 475-7075 (Voice), (585) 475-7076 (TTY); and (585) 475-2411, RIT's main number.
• Voice Mail: A voice mail blast is sent to nearly 3,000 faculty and staff.
• Use of emergency calling trees
• Delivered written instructions and posted flyers
• Electronic Message Board (Outdoors)
• WITR-FM (89.7) radio
• Campus Cable TV: RIT’s Education Technology Center (ETC) has the ability to pre-empt all cable channels on campus.
• External Channels: Students, faculty and staff are advised to stay tuned to Rochester-area media.
• TV - Channels 8, 10, 13, 31 and R News will carry closed-captioned messages during emergency announcements.
• Radio – Emergencies, cancellations/closing will also be announced on the following radio stations: WHAM-AM (1180), WCMF-FM (96.5), WDKX-FM (103.9), WITR-FM (89.7), WXXI-AM (1370), WDVI-FM (100.5), WBEE-FM (92.5), WRMM-FM (101.3) and WPXY-FM (97.9).
Q: What other tools are being considered to enhance RIT’s communication channels in times of emergency?
A: RIT has been actively researching automatic notification systems that will allow almost immediate communication with large numbers of people via phone, text, e-mail and several others. Efforts will continue to find the best solution to integrate this technology in our program.
Q: Does RIT offer counseling?
A: Counseling services are available for students, faculty and staff at our Counseling Center. Appointments can be made by calling (585) 475-2261.
Q: Do RIT Public Safety Officers carry weapons?
A: No. It should be noted that violent crime is relatively rare on college campuses compared to society as a whole, according to federal campus crime statistics. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has official jurisdiction of the RIT campus. Also, the State Police have a barracks nearby.
Q: What other strategies are used by RIT Public Safety?
A: Public Safety proactively utilitizes technology to support its security program including metal detectors, surveillance cameras and technology-based databases to perform trend crime analysis. Each of these tools is used where they can be most effective to support the campus safety initiatives.
Q: How can we find out more about crime statistics at RIT?
A: Federal law mandates that RIT share its annual crime statistics with the community. The statistics can be found on the Public Safety Web site: http://finweb.rit.edu/publicsafety.
Q: What can I do as a member of the RIT community?
A: RIT Public Safety provides a wide variety of security services and prevention programs to the campus community. We encourage everyone to take responsibility for their safety by staying informed of these services and reporting suspicious activity. Learning and practicing basic safety precautions can enhance one's responsibility for their own personal well being. On the Public Safety Web site, you will also find a tip line.
Q: There was an arrest related to firearms Tuesday at the RIT Inn & Conference Center. What can you tell us about this?
A: An alert staff member of the RIT Inn & Conference Center on West Henrietta Road reported hearing a suspicious sound coming from inside a resident’s room. RIT Public Safety and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office were promptly notified and, after authorities discovered two unloaded and illegal firearms in the room, sheriff’s deputies arrested the room’s occupant—an RIT student—later in the day. Although no live ammunition was found in either of the guns, investigators located ammunition inside the student’s vehicle, which was parked outside the RIT Inn & Conference Center.