WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A Purdue University committee that reviewed security issues following January’s deadly campus shooting suggested Wednesday that all students be automatically registered for emergency text alerts and locks should be installed on more classroom doors.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels said the school would be take action based on recommendations presented by the committee during the campus forum.
The committee of university administrators, professors and students reviewed feedback about the school’s handling of the classroom attack during which police say 23-year-old student Cody Cousins shot and stabbed 21-year-old Andrew Boldt of West Bend, Wis.
The committee suggests all students and employees be allowed to “opt-out” of receiving emergency text alerts, rather than being asked to “opt-in” for the messages. It also suggested new beacon alert boxes with flashing lights for basement classrooms with weaker Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity.
Committee chairwoman Patricia Hart, a Spanish professor, said outside experts should review the suggestions and help determine which ones will be implemented on the 40,000-student campus.
“This was a case where one person targeted another and committed a vicious murder,” she said. “Not one of the suggestions that we received about sirens, text messages or door locks would have changed that.”
Graduate student Chris Potter said he hadn’t signed up for the text alerts before the Jan. 21 attack inside the Electrical Engineering Building on the West Lafayette campus.
“That was when I found out that there was a text alert system,” Potter told WTHR-TV. “So I’ve signed up for it now.”
The committee report doesn’t discuss the circumstances of January attack.
Cousins, of Warsaw, was arrested without incident soon after the attack and is jailed on a murder charge. Cousins and Boldt were teaching assistants for the same electrical engineering professor, but authorities haven’t offered a possible motive for the attack. Cousins has pleaded not guilty but recently asked the judge to allow him to fire his defense attorney and represent himself.
The safety committee report said many people raised concerns about many classroom doors not having locks in case students were told to shelter in place. The campus has about 41,000 doors, which would cost about $500 each to convert to lockable hardware, the Journal & Courier reported. The committee’s report didn’t estimate how many doors currently don’t have locks.
Committee member Carol Shelby, senior director of environmental health and public safety for the campus, said she wanted the school to at least consider door locks for classrooms for 50 people or more.
Daniels said Purdue should look for any ways to avoid unnecessary risks.
“We’re going to grab this report and do anything that seems practical and try to do them in the order that will make the most difference,” he said.
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