Contact Dawn Insanalli, director of Public Relations, at (914) 637-2726 or by e-mail to email@example.com.
New Rochelle, NY (September 2009) In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy in which a student killed 32 students and faculty members including himself in April 2007, Iona College became one of the first colleges in the nation to act on a key finding of what went wrong at that campus to help prevent similar incidents from occurring.
A Virginia State panel investigating the campus shootings revealed that there were a number of disturbing incidents by the troubled student over an extended period of time that had not been shared with other campus departments. It strongly recommended that colleges create threat assessment teams—central clearinghouses— to help identify students exhibiting signs of distress and to take steps to help lower the risk of dangerous incidents from occurring.
"The findings made it very clear to us that Iona, like so many other colleges, needed to enhance its mechanisms for gathering information in one central place in order to prevent a tragedy like Virginia Tech from occurring," said Ingrid Grieger, EdD, Director, Counseling Center at Iona College. She added: "It was an immediate wake-up call for us that we needed to act quickly and follow this recommendation to help promote safety throughout the campus community."
The results of Iona College's efforts to create a central safety clearinghouse were announced last spring with the formation of a Concerns and Response (CARE) Team—a multi-disciplinary group of six campus administrators charged with the responsibility of investigating reported cases of students exhibiting signs of distress and providing timely and effective intervention, as appropriate.
"Iona was one of the first colleges to establish a protocol and central clearinghouse. Many other colleges are still in the process of putting their risk assessment teams together," Dr. Grieger added.
Members of the Iona College CARE Team are: Charlie Carlson, chair, Vice Provost for Student Development; Paul Greene, PhD, Psychology Department; Dominic Locatelli, Director, Campus Safety and Security; Elizabeth Olivieri-Lenahan, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Development and Derek Zuckerman, Assistant Vice Provost for Residential Life and Dr. Grieger.
The CARE Team carefully considers the information reported and may gather additional information in order to determine if the behavior of the student is of low, medium or high risk. Depending on the risk level of the behavior, the CARE Team may have a conversation with the student of concern, refer the student for assessment or counseling, make the student aware of other helpful campus resources and/or apply sanctions outlined in the Student Code of Conduct. In more high risk situations, the CARE Team may notify law enforcement officials and parents and possibly enforce suspension or expulsion of the student from the campus. "Given the unfortunate reality that since Virginia Tech, there have been other violent incidents at campuses including Virginia Tech itself, we'd rather err on the side of caution and, therefore, seriously investigate each case," Dr. Grieger noted.
During the new semester now getting underway, the CARE Team will be conducting a campus-wide communications outreach to familiarize all constituents—department chairs, faculty members, resident assistants, student campus ministers and paraprofessionals—about the initiative and what they need to do to help assure safety. "We're emphasizing the fact that recognizing safety promotion and violence prevention is the responsibility of every member of the Iona community," Dr. Grieger stated.
Members of the Iona campus community are being asked to familiarize themselves with reporting procedures, to recognize that all information will be handled in a confidential manner that protects the privacy rights of both the reporter and of the person of concern, and to recognize the following behaviors and warning signs that may constitute risk factors:
As a safety precaution, all members of the Iona community are being urged to register their cell phone numbers on the Campus Safety and Security web page in order to receive text messages in the event of an emergency. "Although what we are doing here at Iona College is no guarantee that something untoward won't happen on our campus, we are committed to being more vigilant and proactive in order to lower the risks," Dr. Grieger stated.
For questions or more information please contact:
Public Relations Office
Iona College, 715 North Avenue, New Rochelle, N.Y. 10801
Office: (914) 637-2726
Fax: (914) 637-2711
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