Families of Virginia Tech victims push campus safety initiative

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s called the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative, named for the 32 victims of the Virginia Tech shootings and aimed at preventing a similar tragedy at colleges and universities across the country.

You’re giving your kid over to a college. They require you to hand over your kid for a period of time to get the education. You’ve got to have that comfortable feeling that everything they can do, they will be doing to keep that kid safe,” said Andrew Goddard.

Goddard’s son was shot but survived. The initiative has created a survey with the help of security and threat assessment experts. Any college or university can take nine surveys in areas ranging from missing students, to emergency management, to hazing. The results are confidential but schools can learn if they are weak in certain areas when it comes to general campus safety. John Bachert has a son at VCU and thinks it’s a great idea.

“I think it’s extremely important, especially at a campus like VCU which is an urban environment and a lot of people can come in and out,” said Bachert.

The organization will work with colleges to not only identify the weaknesses but eliminate them. If a college is able to get a high rating, they can use it to promote the safety of their school to parents and students.

“I think that would be a very important tool for parents and students to find that out,” said student Gabrielle Debra.

Debra says safety was one of her top priorities when applying for colleges.

“It was very important, I wanted to be in a place where I would be safe on campus,” said Debra.

So far more than three dozen schools have participated. Goddard says he hopes it becomes the norm for college campuses.

“I would like to see it get to a critical mass so that there are so many colleges have done it that if you’re college hasn’t done it, you’re going to miss out,” said Goddard.

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