UW President Tom Buchanan statement on Virginia Tech
University of Wyoming to review campus security and response procedures
by University of Wyoming
April 17, 2007
(Laramie) - My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and the entire Virginia Tech community, and the residents of Blacksburg.
I was traveling out of state when I learned about the tragedy at Virginia Tech. As I called back to Laramie to get a sense of how the University of Wyoming was responding to the news from Blacksburg, I couldn't help but think of how similar tragedies have occurred in Laramie. The killing of Matthew Shepherd, the highway deaths of eight student athletes, and July's off-campus double murder-suicide of three young people serve as painful reminders that even in a city as peaceful as Laramie, violence can occur. While smaller in scale than the Blacksburg tragedy, these deaths were no less devastating to the families and friends of the slain students and no less shocking to our community.
We normally associate violent crime with big cities, but tragedies in small towns like Blacksburg; Laramie; Jonesboro, Ark.; and New Holland, Pa., suggest that no community can consider itself immune from terrible, random violence. Even before yesterday's tragic events, the University of Wyoming was examining campus safety and the policies and procedures that govern campus response both routinely and in the case of emergency. We must remain ever vigilant in our best efforts to assure the safety and well being of our students. While we can hope to prevent violence, recent events have shown that even our best efforts might not be enough.
Earlier this month, after meeting again with the parents of the two students killed off-campus in a random act of violence, I charged the vice president for student affairs with a thorough review of campus safety policies, procedures, and protocols. While the event occurred off-campus, it nevertheless serves as a painful reminder that we must all do whatever we can to provide a safe and secure environment for our students. The report from that study, ironically, was provided to me just days before the tragic events in Virginia.
University officials are monitoring the situation in Blacksburg as events unfold. We must learn what we can from the tragedy of Virginia and use that information to provide the most positive, secure, learning environment possible. One thing is clear: communications with students and their families, university employees, and the community in times of crisis is critical. It is also essential that we be able to make a prompt decision about campus security when safety is an issue.
When we more fully understand the tragedy at Virginia Tech, I will ask our university crisis team, in conjunction with city law enforcement officials, to review our security and response procedures in light of the Blacksburg shootings and determine whether modifications are appropriate.
University of Wyoming, www.uwyo.edu