Many Illinois Campuses Lack Detailed Security Plans
Only 66 of Illinois' 185 college institutions have filed required security plans, records show. Yet, they are required to, according to the Campus Security Enhancement Act, which required them to create and practice detailed plans to prevent violence and manage emergencies by January 2009.
In the Chicago area, the schools that haven’t filed include City Colleges of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and — says a Chicago Tribune report.
Representatives for University of Chicago and DeVry University — said the schools would file their plans shortly, the report says.
The tepid response has raised concerns over security preparedness on Illinois campuses, public safety administrators and experts say. An estimated 900,000 students are enrolled in college in Illinois. And, although many institutions have some sort of response plans to life-threatening, campuswide emergencies, it’s unclear how effective they are, a Tribune review of state records found.
The Tribune examination of records from the IBHE and the Illinois Community College Board sheds light on why the effectiveness of the Campus Security Enhancement Act may be in question.
Among the newspaper’s findings:
- No state agency is responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of the plans.
- $25 million committed to help schools comply with the law has failed to materialize
- Wording in the law makes it unclear whether institutions are required to file plans.
- The law lacks an enforcement mechanism.
All of the state’s nine public universities, on 12 campuses, have filed plans with the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Thirty-nine of the state’s 48 community colleges also have submitted plans to the Illinois Community College Board. And 14 of the 56 private colleges and universities, as well as one law school, filed plans as of March 9, the Tribune reports.
None of the 30 independent, for-profit institutions — such as DeVry University, Westwood College and Illinois Institute of Art — have filed with the IBHE, records show.
Northwestern has composed security plans, reviewed them, hired consultants and is scheduling a drill this spring, said Al Cubbage, vice president for university relations. He said the process included “many, many meetings” and that the school expects to file plans with the state very soon.
The University of Chicago has detailed plans on its Emergency Management website, says the report. Those plans include a breakdown of emergency notifications and directions for individuals and departments, and a committee that frequently reviews strategies.
The law requires each higher education institution to establish the plans with local emergency management, mental health, governmental and nearby school district officials. The schools are required to offer training and practice the plan every year and to develop teams for violence prevention and campus threat assessment, says the report.
The code directs school administrators to establish a detailed command structure for emergencies that lays out who is in charge of what and procedures for seeking emergency assistance, exchanging information with emergency responders and handling information, the report says.
The administrative code also requires schools to provide detailed steps on “mass care” for displaced people, health and medical services, even mortuary assistance.