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Articles: Security

The search-based filtering techniques used by social media monitoring tools rely on spotting a specific set of keywords, including the name of the school. Since people can make valid threats using words outside that list, monitoring tools could never identify threats comprehensively.

In the wake of the Colorado movie theater shooting and noting the social media clues that appeared beforehand, college and university leaders are taking threats of violence posted to social media very seriously.

Case in point: Kent State University (Ohio) charged 19-year-old student William Koberna with a felony charge of inducing panic and a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing for tweeting, “I’m shooting up your school ASAP” and threats to the college president. Koberna’s tweets came five days after the Colorado massacre.

Over the last few years, high-profile laboratory incidents at major institutions have made front-page headlines. The latest resulting in the death of a graduate student at UCLA, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) decision to pursue criminal charges against both UCLA and the individual principal investigator (PI) in charge of the lab. The UCLA tragedy and another high profile accident at Texas Tech University (which also resulted in casualties) have altered the way OSHA is approaching enforcement in research lab settings.

Changes are coming to colleges and universities as administrators look to increase efficiencies in the way campuses are secured and building operations are managed.

Today’s campus security director already has his or her hands full keeping pace with new facilities and a growing student population. As security takes on increased importance, campuses are adding more surveillance cameras, access control, intrusion, fire alarms, visitor management, emergency notification systems, intercoms and other equipment.

The House and Senate have been working to come to an agreement on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012. If passed, the House version of legislation will give the director for the office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) within the Department of Justice the authority to establish a National Center for Campus Public Safety.

As in any community, there will always be incidents of crime on campus. While the cause is unknown, in many categories of campus crime, the number of arrests went down between 2007 and 2009. Add unified security systems to the mix, and response to crime can be swifter and the number of victims can potentially be minimized even further.

The university’s unified security initiative­—which is helping to ensure that information quickly reaches students, faculty, and staff anywhere on campus so that they can take appropriate action—is being implemented by Director of Emergency Management Scott G. Burnotes. His team took advantage of campus fire alarms and their ability to be used to communicate in any type of emergency.

When Scott G. Burnotes arrived at the University of Miami, he found multiple, separate systems for emergency notifications. A third-party vendor handled texting, emailing, and phone calls; sirens had been set up around campus; and some web-based notifications were utilized.

“Their focus was on continuing to build a multimodal method of communication for all types of emergencies,” recalls Burnotes, Miami’s director of emergency management.

security cameras


The lecture had run late, and on top of that the sophomore biology major had joined a couple of friends for a cup of coffee afterward to kick around the speaker’s provocative ideas. It was well after midnight when he made it back across campus to his residence hall, where he noticed a side door that was ajar.

Modern technology has a lot of upsides. On the downside is the fact that you need an ID and password to access most of it. Keeping your own logins straight is hard enough; keeping them straight for thousands of people on a college campus is even harder.

First things first. This story is not about the Second Amendment of The United States Constitution, which grants citizens the right to keep and bear arms. Every state recognizes that right and, at the state level, 49 of them include a provision for licensed owners to carry concealed handguns in public. Instead, this story is about the debate over whether that right should extend to carrying firearms onto the country’s colleges and universities.

Sometimes tragedy creates change for the better—a sad reality that is being illustrated on campuses across the country as an increasing number of colleges mandated background screenings for students, particularly those enrolled in health science programs.

Tim Goral

As this issue of University Business was being prepared to go to press, we were all stopped in our tracks as word came, first via social media and then from conventional news sources, that another shooting had taken place at Virginia Tech.

Students camping out at Occupy Duke

The Occupy movement that has swept the nation—and the world—also has a home at many colleges and universities. Long associated with protests, and historically touted as the home of open discourse, American colleges and universities have had a difficult balancing act on their hands: how to promote free speech while maintaining safety on campus.


Faculty and staff at every college and university in the United States like to talk about the real-world, hands-on education it imparts to its students.

At Onondaga Community College, part of the State University of New York system, a select group of students are not only rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty in preparation for future careers, but also saving the school money while making its campus safer.

American colleges and universities are breeding grounds for innovative ideas and open information sharing. Pair that with a large number of systems on a given network and a vulnerable student population with fresh credit and you've got an appealing target for identity thieves.