Symposium on campus safety to be held September 11

Symposium on campus safety to be held September 11

Athens, Ga. – “Responding to Emergencies on Campus: UGA and You,” a symposium on campus security, is slated for 8:30-11:30 a.m. on Sept. 11 in the University of Georgia Chapel. The event, which is sponsored by the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Center for International Trade and Security, is free and open to the public.

Marking the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the fourth annual National Preparedness Month, the program features administrators, professors and security professionals who will discuss measures that individuals and first-responders can take to handle emergencies.

Whether an emergency strikes during home or office hours, knowing how the university plans to respond and how you can respond can ease the process, said John Newton, emergency operations coordinator in the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness.

“Nobody wants to think about an emergency until it happens, and by then it’s too late,” Newton said. “People who come can learn about how the university and the Athens community are going to respond to an emergency on campus. They can also ask questions or offer suggestions about our plans.”

Security on college campuses received national attention in 2007 following the shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech that claimed more than 30 lives. In response, UGA President Michael F. Adams commissioned two committees to assess campus security and readiness and psychological services protocols.

Kathy Pharr, assistant vice president for finance and administration, chaired the committee on emergency preparedness and communications. At the event, she will present an update on the progress which has been made on the preparedness front over the last year.

The director of the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness, Steve Harris, will speak on “Trends in Emergency Preparedness” including what other higher education institutions are doing to better prepare and respond to campus emergencies.

“Although UGA remains a leader in implementing an emergency mass notification system (UGAAlert),” said Harris, “we can always learn by experience and improve the system. It’s also beneficial to review other colleges and universities’ programs and the lessons learned from actual emergencies.”

UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson will speak on “What to Expect from the UGA Police.” While his talk centers on specifics, the implications are wide-ranging, he said.

“It’s about the importance of communicating with the public about how the police department will respond, but it’s also about outlining a partnership between the police and the community,” Williamson said. “You can apply the concept anywhere.”

Individuals will learn about strategies for handling emergencies from Trina von Waldner, a public service associate in the College of Pharmacy.

“Everyone cannot and will not be able to respond to an emergency, but there are a lot of things that would be impacted by an event like a tornado, and everyone needs to be ready at home, so anyone can benefit from coming,” she said. “(My talk will cover) making sure your family knows how to contact one another, making sure you have supplies ready and that if you’re displaced, you have a plan of where to go and where to meet.”

Igor Khripunov, a research professional at the Center for International Trade and Security, will speak on “Creating a Security Culture on Campus.” Following his talk, time will be provided for general discussion and questions.

The event is part of the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness’ Academic-Professional Security Series, which is designed to bring together professionals and academics working in the areas of security to increase collaboration between the groups.

For more information on this and future seminars, see www.osep.uga.edu.