Special Supplement: Securing the Campus

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Campus protection issues—both of the campus community and its information assets— are more urgent than ever before.

Ralph C. Jensen

SECURING THE CAMPUS—whether it be from the standpoint of protecting information and ensuring data privacy, or guarding the physical safety of the campus community—is more of a challenge today than in any other time in history. The conundrum of fostering the open forum that is the mainstay of higher ed life and learning, while also implementing and enforcing impenetrable barriers (both IT and physical), is confounding not just college administrators, but the world at large. How, for instance, do we encourage the growing adoption of open source applications while, at the same time, we bemoan the rise of the hacker and his ability to exploit the chinks inevitable in our burgeoning infrastructures? How do we live through national catastrophes such as the April Virginia Tech shootings, without succumbing to the knee-jerk reaction to install every new bell and whistle coming onto the market in the aftermath—or worse, feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of new devices and choices?

Katherine Grayson

In these 24 pages, you’ll find the information, products, and resources to help you devise actionable plans for strategically sound protection of the campus, its community, and its information assets. The features herein deal with two urgent security issues facing campus administrators today: 1) the development of an integrated, multi-pronged plan for effective physical protection of the campus community, and 2) the need for a clearer understanding of the security issues (or nonissues) inherent in the current move to an open source information environment.

Having said that, and in light of the Virginia Tech tragedy, we cannot help but offer additional vital information to our readers:

Parents are now understandably concerned that US campuses have adequate security measures in place. They worry that their children may not be protected, or that students will not be notified effectively and immediately, when an emergency or critical event takes place.

In light of this, in late April Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation aimed at strengthening security on campuses, and requiring that universities develop emergency response procedures and implement campus notification systems. His Campus Law Enforcement Emergency Response Act of 2007 also states that these systems be tested at least once a year.

Durbin has the right idea. This legislation would develop and distribute policies for responding to law enforcement emergencies, and would include notifying students and employees about emergencies on campus. The protocol demands that campus communities provide notification no later than 30 minutes after the discovery of an emergency situation in which law enforcement is involved.

Sen. Durbin is backing up his proposed legislation with the stipulation that $5 million be provided to the US Department of Education for a competitive grant program designed to help colleges and universities develop and improve their emergency response procedures. Follow the bill’s progress.

Ralph C. Jensen, associate publisher/editor, Security Products
Katherine Grayson, editor-in-chief, Campus Technology

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