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Safety

Today's RAs receive enhanced training on a range of issues, from sex assault to homesickness. (Click to enlarge)

Even if an incident doesn’t happen in a residence hall, RAs must know what to expect during a potential crisis on campus, and how to better help their students, says David L. Perry, president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

Just as campus officials across the nation are engaged in active shooter response training because of tragedies like at Virginia Tech, RAs need to master the proper response procedures, including building lockdowns. They might be the only authority figures in the residence halls during a potential threat.

Salisbury University alum Carey Haddock, here in front of Manokin Hall, was once an RA herself. Now she’s the trainer and supervisor for RAs at the school.

Parents and students expect RAs to solve roommate problems and ensure dorms are conducive to study and sleep. But with an amplified national discourse on sexual assault, gun violence and mental illness, today’s resident assistants are on the front lines of a whole host of issues related to safety and overall wellness.

Karen Bitar is a partner in the litigation department of Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

Allegations of sex abuse, once hidden from public view at universities, are seeing the light of day at record levels. That attention leads to inevitable questions: How can a school conduct the required investigation when a complaint is made, and deal with victim concerns that schools turn a blind eye to their needs?

Aradhana Bela Sood is a senior professor for child mental health policy and professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

Aradhana Bela Sood's new book on the Virginia Tech massacre highlights what can be done to better treat people who are struggling emotionally. Sood, a senior professor for child mental health policy at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, says threat assessment and treating students quickly are keys.

Paula V. Smith is a professor of English and director of the Purposeful Risk Engagement Project at Grinnell College in Iowa.

The academic landscape is fraught with risk—everything from hazardous chemicals and internal fraud, to flu outbreaks and budget shortfalls.

It seems obvious that any college or university would invest effort to identify and rank its current top risks, if just to assign the right level of attention and resources to each. Yet many academic institutions don’t follow through with enterprise risk management (ERM).

Dartmouth College has launched a new campaign to combat harmful student behavior, including sexual assault and high-risk drinking.

Under the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan, the Ivy League school will no longer serve hard alcohol (30 proof or higher) on campus and will increase penalties for underage students found in possession of hard alcohol. Also in the works:

Preventing flu at Mizzou: University of Missouri got more students to get a flu vaccination by  folding the cost into the per-semester student health fee and by offering the shot at locations throughout campus.

Advance planning the key to preventing and managing infectious diseases on campus. College and university officials acknowledge that the most common communicable disease they must address is the flu, but they're also creating emergency preparedness plans to help prevent outbreaks of rarer illnesses like meningitis.

Communicable diseases that can impact college and university campuses run the gamut from mumps to measles.

Although flu is the most common infectious disease on college campuses, trailing not far behind it is chlamydia, one of the sexually transmitted diseases most prevalent among young adults.

To help diagnose and treat students for the disease, which can cause infertility in women, the University of Missouri in Columbia has offered free testing events for both chlamydia and gonorrhea at several locations on campus and in the community. Triggered by the CDC’s “GYT” (Get Yourself Tested) initiative, the university last fall increased the testing to twice a month.

Many people question why campus police would need a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protection vehicle like the ones pictured here. (Photo: Creative Commons: U.S. Navy)

One of the more enduring images from the recent protests in Ferguson, Mo., was that of armored military vehicles rolling down the streets of the city. But many have been surprised to learn that this equipment is also showing up on college campuses.

Tabletop emergency exercises are part of the drill for Greencastle, Ind., Police Chief Tom Sutherlin and DePauw University Director of Public Safety Angela Nally. They met in August for an exercise at the Emergency Operations Center in Greencastle.

Cooperation between college and local police is expanding--police at many institutions now run through emergency drills with their local counterparts and some schools have seen their officers’ jurisdiction expanded into surrounding communities. Sexual assaults, however, remain a major concern.

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