Security enhancement act still leaves room for more improvement


Though a new act in Illinois will not prevent emergency situations, it is sure to do a lot for the reaction to such situations, as well as increase peace of mind.

The Campus Security Enhancement Act, signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich Friday, requires all Illinois colleges and universities to “develop and exercise an all-hazards emergency response plan and a … campus violence prevention plan,” according to a news release from the governor’s office.

This means all colleges will have plans and training for several types of emergency situations that may arise on campus. The new law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2009.

NIU is mostly unaffected by this new law, as we already have most aspects of emergency response in place. During the Feb. 14 shootings, the University Police, DeKalb Police and other agencies responded quickly and in an organized way. NIU also had an emergency guide put in place more than a year ago, in response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

But the new law can only benefit other schools in the state. To most, the law’s provisions would seem to be obvious: better to react preparedly than to be disorganized when responding in an emergency situation.

The act will not prevent an emergency because unplanned situations can never be predicted, but it makes for a stronger response to such situations.

Still, this is a positive step as Illinois is the first state to mandate such guidelines. While the law boosts NIU’s image, and the images of all colleges and universities within the state, it also enhances the capability of universities to respond to emergencies situations, as they will now have detailed plans for reacting to such situations.

The act also provides a stronger sense of security for all parents and students. It may help alleviate some concerns family members have while their student is away at college, and those students can take some comfort in knowing their university officials are well-versed in an emergency response.

It is largely the responsibility of the school and state to provide that sense of security at college.

With that said, more is still needed, at least in regard to campus violence.

We hope Illinois legislators are working toward possibly preventing situations like Feb. 14, by looking into solutions such as stronger gun control for those with mental illnesses, or limiting gun purchases within a certain time period. In no way can we minimize any emergency.

The best way to never repeat the past is to learn from it. With a reminder that more will and should be done, we agree the new act is a step in the right direction.