Keeping students safe on campus at SOSU

By: Stephanie Brletic Email
By: Stephanie Brletic Email

DURANT, Okla. -- After Thursday’s shooting at Northern Illinois University, spokespeople for one local university say they have plans in place to help prevent tragedies at their school. Stephanie Brletic has the details about how Southeastern Oklahoma State University is keeping students safe.

Officials at SOSU say their plan includes a one-on-one approach that will help identify student problems before they get out of hand.

On a dreary, cold day, students walk around the Southeastern Oklahoma State University campus. Their faces are somber. Many of them say Thursday’s shooting at Northern Illinois University is weighing on their minds.

"Am I afraid after the events? I'd have to say yes I’m afraid. A lot of students would probably agree. They are a bit shocked that something like this would happen," SOSU senior Michael Dennis says.

Campus authorities say school officials can't guarantee 100% safety, but they say they do their best to protect students, and a major part of that approach is taking preventative measures like using student support services and counseling to identify risks.

Everyone from staff to students gets involved.

"We are all trained to notice behavior patterns, shifts in behavior patterns. If a student stops showing up for classes we know about it. If they stop showing up in their room or show up just the same but are acting different, we're trained not only to recognize those, but how to respond to them,” resident adviser John Swoboda says.

Unlike high schools where metal detectors and locked doors are common, college campuses are spread out and harder to secure.

One freshman says she feels very safe at SOSU and says the university is constantly creating new ways to improve emergency preparedness.

"I know the vice president was talking about maybe doing the text messaging where you warn students that way and set up all their cell phone numbers and put intercom systems in all the buildings so that not just a siren goes off when something goes wrong, but they tell you what's going on, because a siren means for people to run out, and you might not want that," SOSU freshman Jessica Daskalakis says.

One SOSU alumni who now works at the campus says in the last 20 years there haven't been any incidences of violence, and hopefully careful planning for emergencies will keep it that way.

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