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Illinois State holds vigils for Virginia Tech tragedy

The Virginia Tech shootings brought the Illinois State University campus together in several ceremonies organized and promoted by students.  The first was the ringing of the Old Main Bell 32 times, one for each life lost at Virginia Tech, on the University’s quad on Friday, April 20.

The second event was a vigil on the quad on Monday, April 23, organized by the Student Government Association, the Association of Residence Halls, the University Program Board and the Division of Student Affairs to help the campus community demonstrate its sympathy for the Virginia Tech student body, faculty and staff following the tragedy.

The third event was a Monday, April 23, candlelight vigil.  Sociology graduate student Mat Willey who spearheaded the evening event said, “I’ve had dozens of emails from students asking how they can help. “We feel it is important to continue this show of unity with students at Virginia Tech.”

President Al Bowman spoke at the afternoon vigil.  Some of his remarks follow.

The security of the Illinois State University campus and the safety of our students, faculty and staff members remains our highest priority. I believe the Illinois State community is a very safe environment. There is ample data to suggest that the community you live in today is safer than your hometown.

Our University police department patrols campus 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. They are assisted by Normal Police, Bloomington Police and the McLean County Sheriffs Department. Campus police provide two dozen ongoing crime prevention programs designed to reduce the vulnerability of students, faculty and staff to crime and criminal attack.

Our residence halls include live-in staff members on duty 24 hours per day. Each hall has an information center, security cameras and public address and emergency paging systems. Professional staff members limit building access during certain times of day, and each complex has an assigned Counseling Center liaison who is available to discuss the behavior of students that may be troubling to others.

When an emergency does occur, our Campus Safety and Student Affairs teams respond quickly and efficiently to classroom buildings, residence halls and other campus facilities. In fact, our Incident Response Teams have earned regional recognition and respect.

Unfortunately, we know all too well and are reminded all too frequently that no plan is perfect and no environment is completely safe. We have seen that just one tormented soul can overwhelm competent safety plans and undermine our sense of security.

That is why last week I personally met with the campus leaders whose departments provide for our safety, security and well-being. My charge to them was to review and where necessary revise our current plans, programs, policies, facilities and technologies. My goal is that everything regarding campus safety will become faster, smarter, better.

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