How Safe is JMU?

Virginia Tech is located in a rural area, and it is only a few hours down the road from JMU. Harrisonburg and Blacksburg are similar in that they are both relatively small college towns. In the wake of the horrific events at Virginia Tech, I can’t help but think about the security of JMU. During my four years at JMU I have never practiced a lock down drill or read an emergency plan.

Here’s what I know about JMU

  • JMU Police use a “First Response” e-mail alert system to warn students about emergencies
  • JMU’s dormitories have JACard protected doors (require a student’s ID card) that are locked 24/7
  • JACards only work for the dormitories that the students live in
  • Many campus buildings have video surveillance cameras
  • There are emergency phones located throughout campus that connect students to local authorities
  • There are some classrooms that require JACards for access (e.g. computer labs, departmental rooms)

Here’s what I don’t know about JMU

  • Does JMU have an emergency response system?
  • Does JMU have sirens?
  • In what ways do officials notify students of an emergency (besides e-mail)?
  • Do they call students, send text messages to cell phones, or dispatch law enforcement to block the roads and warn students?
  • Do all classroom doors have locks?
  • Where can students report suspicious events / students?
  • Where should off-campus students evacuate to during an on-campus emergency?

In the next couple of days I anticipate that JMU officials will make every effort to answer these questions and many more. Furthermore, I expect that colleges across the country will inform students of their emergency plans or devise new ones.


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