Security, Duke response raise some concerns


Security, Duke response raise some concerns


By: Zak Kazzaz
Posted: 4/18/07
Two days after the Monday massacre at Virginia Tech, students nationwide remained on edge Tuesday as more details of the tragedy emerged and additional security threats occurred on several other college campuses.

A bomb threat at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville Monday, just hours after the Virginia Tech shootings, caused university officials to evacuate two buildings there. Another threat received Tuesday at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, prompted the university to evacuate buildings and dormitories and cancel the entire day's classes.

Although many Duke students said they are not worried about a similar catastrophe in Durham, several said that there are safety concerns for which the University cannot account.

"What terrifies me, and what I'm sure terrifies most people, is that it was random," freshman Kate Van Buskirk said. "He just went in and started killing people."

Some parents of Duke students also said they have been gripped by fear and anxiety regarding the issue.

"I don't know what can happen or what can be done," said Ruth Azimi, parent of a Duke freshman and a Virginia resident. "On campus, everybody can get in, nobody asks for IDs, and now that's kind of scary."

John Burness, senior vice president for government affairs and public relations, said Duke is currently evaluating all of its security and response practices.

He added that the University is considering a system that can send out a mass text message to all students in case of an emergency.

"Let's remind people what's going on, and dust [the emergency systems] off, and make sure they still work," Burness said.

Junior Paul Slattery, the incoming president of Duke Student Government, said that text messages, however, might not fully address the issue.

"What if a student doesn't have service or doesn't have their cell phone?" Slattery said.

The shooter's student status at Virginia Tech makes such an incident very hard to predict since universities place trust in their students, Burness said.

"Universities tend to be open places," he said. "With the tragedy at Virginia Tech, it wasn't an individual from the outside, it was somebody from the inside. I think our folks have planned for the best they can, but you can never plan for everything."

Students said the main concern raised by recent events is the communication between the administration and Duke community.

Several students also said they had been unhappy with Duke's lack of an immediate response to the situation.

President Richard Brodhead released a response to The Chronicle Monday night but chose not to send an e-mail to the entire community, Burness said.

Nearby ACC colleges, such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University, placed their administrators' responses to the shooting on the homepages of their websites. Although Brodhead's response was posted on Duke's website, it was not displayed on the homepage.

Burness said the statement was released late in the day Monday because the information about Tuesday's vigil service had not yet been finalized. He added that the administration thought The Chronicle was the best outlet through which to reach students about the day's tragedy.

"I would have liked an e-mail to be sent out, given that we're in such close proximity and there's a lot of overlap of friends," Van Buskirk said. "People just had access to the news, and personally I had so much conflicting information."

Some parents also said an e-mail should have been sent to both students and parents.

"Right now, I think unity is very important," Azimi said. "We have to realize that being together in this moment means a lot to everyone. An expression extending that through to the parents would have been very nice."

Brodhead's statement said the Office of Student Affairs would contact students with connections to Virginia Tech. Burness added that Resident Assistants would contribute to this process, ensuring that students are aware of the counseling services available to them.

The majority of students interviewed by The Chronicle, however, said neither group had contacted them.


Original Source: <a href=> Duke Chronicle - April 18, 2007</a>


Sara Hood


Duke Chronicle




Sara Hood


David Graham <>




Sara Hood, “Security, Duke response raise some concerns,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 15, 2024,