WEST LAFAYETTE – Three months after a student was murdered on campus, Purdue University released its report; it reviewed feedback about security.
On Jan. 21, authorities said Cody Cousins fatally shot and stabbed Andrew Boldt in the electrical engineering building at Purdue University. Cousins was charged with killing Boldt and Cousins is behind bars waiting for his trial.
“Because of this unbelievable tragedy, we have gone back. We’ve learned some things. We’ve seen some ways to get better than we are and we’re going to do it,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said.
Immediately after the shooting, the university formed an 18-person security feedback panel. It is made up of faculty, students, and a parent. The panel reviewed hundreds of letters, emails, and phone calls received after the shooting.
Alex Hauser was on campus that day. She said there was some confusion about what was happening.
“I just thought it was kind of weird that nobody knew what to do or how to handle the situation,” Hauser said.
Her sorority sister, Jill Terry, agreed.
“There was definitely confusion just especially with Twitter – the social media aspect of it. People were saying 5 people got shot and that there were 3 killers on campus,” Terry said.
While the university believes the shooting was an isolated incident, they did notice possible improvements.
University officials looked at some of the recommendations highlighted in the report. They are looking at things like the ability to lock doors from the inside without a key, expanding their text alert system, and additional training so everyone knows exactly what to do during an emergency. For example a reminder to faculty and staff that safety is first. There may be new guidelines detailing how and when to stop teaching. They are looking at better ways to communicate with parents too.
“All you can do is plan and prepare and then respond. You never know what that situation is going to be the next time. We want to do the best we can do and teak some processes that we found that we can tweak and keep doing what we found out we were doing well,” Purdue Police Chief John Cox said.
The university is also looking at adding alertus beacons in large rooms and classrooms where internet or cell phone service isn’t good. It’s a bright light and it would display an alert.
“It would be helpful to have those and then it’s clear to professors. It’s clear to students what’s going on,” Terry said.
Students should notice some changes already. For example, the university added a new twitter account. It is @purdueemergency and they plan to post about emergencies via that account.
“Unfortunately this event has raise everybody’s awareness level quite a bit and when something like this happens…it just rocks the foundation of the community,” Cox said.
While some changes have been made, the university is trying to determine the priority of other options. They plan to work with outside experts to determine how to move forward.
There isn’t a set timeline about implementation of the recommendations.
“This is a very safe place just go look at the history and the numbers. We shouldn’t let this one horrific incident blind us to that,” Daniels said.
Daniels said the safety of students and staff members is always number one.
“Safety has to come first and so we’ll give it a very, very high priority,” Daniels said.