Universities Get “Ready To Respond” In Wake Of Campus Disasters

Nine Illinois universities and colleges, including  the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Richland Community College in Decatur, will take part in a new disaster preparation initiative.

The chairman of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, Don Kauerauf, says he was recently talking with a friend who confirmed firsthand something Kauerauf has increasingly heard in conversations with university administrators.

Even before they ask about college tuition and costs, parents are concerned about how safe their son or daughter will be when they go away to school.  Kauerauf says a new program will make nine Illinois schools safer, and better prepared.

Participating colleges from across the state will work with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency for the next year toward a “ready to respond” designation.

KAUERAUF: “Too much is made of just having a plan … A plan could be just a document sitting on a shelf.  What the … Ready Campus project really focuses on, is meeting with people.  Meeting with your local police, your local fire, your local emergency management. It’s outreach within the campus themselves so you can communicate with the students themselves.”

Kauerauf says universities will have to demonstrate they’ve met standards in areas like violence prevention and hazard identification. If they meet the requirements, they’ll get to use the special Campus Ready logo on brochures and websites … to help assure worried parents their campuses are safe.

Participating colleges are:

Augustana College (Rock Island), Columbia College (Chicago), Heartland Community College (Normal), Parkland College (Champaign), Moraine Valley Community College (Palos Hills), Richland Community College (Decatur), Southeastern Illinois College (Harrisburg), Southern Illinois University (Carbondale), University of Illinois (Urbana/Champaign)

-Amanda Vinicky

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