By Josh Smith, Contributing Writer
Many factors go into choosing a university: finding the right degree program, unique extracurricular activities, different clubs and organizations and an overall fun atmosphere play a huge part in finding a school to spend the next four years of your life. The one aspect that is beginning to play a bigger role in the selection process is campus safety.
In the wake of the various mass shootings and the heightened awareness of gun violence around the United States, schools and universities around the country are beginning to implement more safety measures, not only preparing for more severe emergencies, but also for keeping the university safe from other offenses. West Liberty University prides itself on maintaining and continuing to develop new strategies to protect the hilltop.
“I think if you talk to anyone on campus, there is not a fear of being on campus,” said Scott Cook, Vice President of Student Services/Registrar. “We have a police presence on campus, as well as residential life staff. Obviously living off campus, depending on where you live, you could live in a remote area. As a university and on-campus, however, we have been ranked as having one of the safest campuses in the state, and I think that’s one of the things that draws a lot of students to us.”
According to niche.com, in a recent report detailing 2018’s best colleges, WLU was voted as the second safest university in the state of West Virginia, receiving a safety grade of A and behind only Bluefield State College.
“We are implementing all different types of safety measures,” said Joseph Montemurro, Chief of Police at WLU. “Currently, with the critical incident response team which I am in charge of, we are updating many things. We have a U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel who has been coming here to consult us on many new strategies for major emergencies, one of which includes active shooter situations. We are hoping these changes will be noticeable to students in the near future.”
One of the more recognizable tactics WLU has employed to manage campus safety but seems to go unnoticed is the implementation of blue emergency phone stations, located around campus.
There are currently three locations on campus that house these phones: along the walkway behind Boyd and Rogers Hall, beside the softball field and Beta Hall’s parking lot, and in the parking lot in front of the Myers Maintenance Building.
“These emergency phones are there for an easy contact to 9-1-1,” said Montemurro. “If someone is really in trouble and doesn’t have their phone, they grab that phone and it immediately connects to 9-1-1.”
Photo credit: Josh Smith