At 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 28 in Tucson, Ariz., Robert Stewart Flores, a student at the University of Arizona’s nursing school, shot and killed three of his professors before taking his own life. The Arizona Daily Wildcat reported that Flores was deeply troubled by several recent failing grades. Incidents like the University of Arizona shooting have caused many schools across the country to reevaluate their security systems and emergency procedures in an effort to prevent such violence from occurring on campus.

At Georgetown University, several security programs and plans already exist to help insure the well being of students, faculty and staff. The university outlined its security goals in a statement released by the Office of Communications at the beginning of the school year. “The safety and security of all members of the university community are preconditions of the learning, dialogue and personal growth at Georgetown. We work comprehensively to promote public safety on our campuses, in all university facilities, at our events and in international exchange programs.”

The statement further explains several integrated levels of security that exist at Georgetown. The Department of Public Safety is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to incidents that occur within the university community. DPS officers have the authority to arrest individuals on school property and respond to any reports of violence on campus. Georgetown University Emergency Response Medical System responds to all medical emergency calls on university property. Additionally, a system is slowly being phased into the university that restricts access to administrative, residential and academic buildings through the use of a Georgetown identification card. Several other smaller-scale measures have been taken to further increase security on campus.

The university has also taken steps to ensure public safety in the event that a large-scale emergency occurs. According to the Office of Communications’ Safety and Security Factsheet, “Georgetown’s Emergency Response Team, including members of Public Safety, Risk Management, Facilities, Student Affairs, the Provost’s office, Communications, the Office of International Programs and other departments, is responsible for maintaining a plan to enable the university to respond to a variety of potential crisis situations on and off campus.” The plan is modeled after both local and federal disaster plans and includes rapid internal coordination, security procedures and cooperation between university officials and district and federal agencies. The group of administrators in charge of the emergency plans meets regularly to review, test and update the safety procedures.

Georgetown also provides students with psychological, emotional and spiritual assistance. Staffs from Residence Life, Campus inistry and the Counseling and Psychiatric Services are available 24 hours a day to listen to students and offer advice.

The success of the university’s safety and security efforts are reflected in the annual crime statistics compiled by DPS and other local authorities. The statistics report that the Georgetown University community experiences a relatively low amount of serious and violent crimes. Between 1999 and 2001 there were no reports of weapons possession, non-negligent manslaughter or murder. A vast majority of the offenses involved petty crimes such as burglary, theft and alcohol violations.

Overall, the administration feels that Georgetown is adequately prepared to deal with security issues. “The university takes seriously its responsibility to do all it can to provide as secure and supportive a community as possible. The structure in place, involving students, faculty and staff enables us to do that,” Assistant Vice President for Communications Julie Green Bataille said. She said that despite the fact that there is no way to guarantee safety, the university has taken all of the necessary precautions to meet the safety needs of the Georgetown community.

Meanwhile, the events that transpired at the University of Arizona have not caused students to doubt Georgetown’s security. “I feel perfectly safe on campus,” Kim Kaczmarek (COL ’04) said. Some believe that the violence in Arizona could not have been prevented by even the best security system. “It is possible for a shooting like the one at Arizona to happen at Georgetown, but it is not something I am afraid of,” Lauren Rauch (COL ’05) said.

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