Last Friday marked the second time since Sept. 11 that the White House has put the nation on Code Orange alert. New York and Washington, D.C. were named likely targets and citizens were advised to be prepared in case of biological, chemical or radiological attack.

In light of these warnings, university President Jack DeGioia and Senior Vice President Spiros Dimolitsas recently sent out separate school-wide e-mails outlining the new safety precautions that the university has taken. “Although we have no knowledge of specific threats, we are taking steps to help ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Dimolitsas said in a Feb. 13 broadcast e-mail.

“In the past 18 months, the university has worked to enhance our emergency preparedness,” DeGioia said. “In such an emergency, the university will be working closely with government officials, and we will inform our community of what steps we may need to take.”

With regard to university access at the Main Campus and Law Center, access by commercial vehicles will be monitored by Department of Public Safety officers. The officers will also conduct “random spot-checks” of vehicles and close off some entrances during certain hours. Specifically, entry to the ain Campus will only be available through Entrance 1 on Reservoir Road or Canal Road.

Similarly, university-occupied facilities outside the Main Campus are being asked to limit access to a single point and check identification. It was also noted that the 24-hour lockdown policy already implemented in undergraduate residences halls will remain unchanged for the time being.

Dimolitsas also discussed the enhanced emergency management plan in effect on all three campuses. This includes procedures for the establishment of an Emergency Operations Center, as well as the availability of Senior Administrator on Call and the formation of a several Emergency Support Teams dealing with safety, community needs, security communications and students studying abroad.

In preparation for these measurements, university and campus officials have been designated to lead each EST. In addition, “marshals” for each building and floor have been selected help people in these buildings in the event of an emergency.

Dimolitsas further stated the measures that would be taken in the event of a Code Red. “Should the federal government establish a Code Red situation for the District, we will immediately enact relevant provisions of our plan,” Dimolitsas said. “These will include activating our EOC and further restricting campus access. Building access will also come under increased scrutiny and control.”

Scenarios that the university ESTs are currently preparing for include weather emergencies, building fires and the releasing of a biological or chemical agent. “While we will not make all details public, we are making every effort to prepare for any potential emergency,” Dimolitsas said. “It’s unfortunate that we live in such dangerous times and I have the full faith in our armed forces, polices and other emergency personnel who are fully capable of dealing with any situation.”

Other universities in the Washington area are taking serious measures to be ready in the event of an urgent situation. George Washington University, for instance, currently remains at a “normal” status while its University Police Department is operating on heightened awareness as it monitors ongoing events.

Georgetown also reminded students of other sources of information regarding an emergency situation, such as the Web sites for the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which can be found at www.redcross.org and www.fema.gov/areyouready respectively.

There were also several mediums of communications specified in which students will be contacted, including broadcast telephone messages, e-mail, the main university Web site and the individual building marshals. In addition, Dimolitsas encouraged students to attend one of the town hall meetings on campus security scheduled for Feb. 18. from 12-1:30 p.m. and 5:30-7 p.m. in ICC Auditorium.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.