April’s tragic shootings at Virginia Tech focused the attention of everyone in higher education on the issue of campus safety.

While it is impossible to guarantee absolute protection on an open campus where people come and go at all hours of the day, it is imperative that we do everything within our power to make sure that students, faculty and staff are alerted to what is happening in times of crisis.

Toward that end, people in the Pullman community heard a series of siren blasts and public address announcements Saturday as we again tested our newly installed outdoor warning system. Last year, WSU administrators identified the need for such a system and we were able to fund it through the minor capital works allocation from the legislature. Saturday’s testing went well and we are confident of the system’s ability to reach all parts of our Pullman campus.

We have submitted a supplemental budget request to the legislature asking for funding for similar alert systems for our other campuses as well.

WSU also recently signed a contract with 3n, the only firm that met all of our criteria for a comprehensive emergency notification system. The system, which we expect to have up and running in the next month, will allow us to send out information quickly by text messaging, e-mail and phone to all our campuses in a crisis.

I urge everyone on our campuses to sign up for these services. To do so, go to
, enter your sign-on information and click on Register under Emergency Notification. Your privacy will be protected; the information you enter will be used only for emergency communications.

Having multiple methods of communication is crucial to spreading the word. The more people who sign up, the better prepared we will be to react.

Campus safety, however, isn’t just about technology. At WSU, we pride ourselves on our face-to-face approach, our Cougar spirit and our small-campus feel. Personal responsibility is a part of that as well. People need to be aware of their surroundings, to make smart choices and to look out for one another.

Put that community-minded Cougar spirit together with the latest in communications technology, and we will truly be doing everything in our power to keep our campuses safe.