Friday, September 12, 2008


After spending nearly an hour at the State University—Oneonta, I phoned Hartwick College (in Oneonta) and asked to meet with the head of campus safety, Tom Kelly. Just as in the case of SUNY—Oneonta, Hartwick College had security and emergency plans in place before the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Mr. Kelly said that Hartwick is undergoing a major review and upgrade of campus security. Campus security is improving the professionalism of the staff and is looking at ways to attract, hire, and keep professional security personnel. The campus security at Hartwick is not a police force so by law its officers may not carry weapons.

It is against the law for anyone to bring a weapon on campus and Mr. Kelly cited a recent incident where someone spotted a shotgun in a car parked on campus. The Oneonta police were called. The car did not belong to anyone associated to the school, but to a town resident who parked it on school grounds after meeting a co-ed and returning with her to the school dorm. The individual was found, arrested and spent the night in jail—the law had been broken and Kelly said, “We will not tolerate any weapons on campus.”

If a student is caught with a weapon the Oneonta police department is called immediately and he or she is suspended. Usually the student withdraws for the term.

Senior school officials meet once a week to discuss campus problems, specifically case reviews of individuals who are having academic, behavioral, or emotional problems. The campus also has a hot line. Anyone can dial #3333 to report anyone on campus that is causing concern.

Mr. Kelly indicted that if aberrant behavior is brought to his attention, he has the right to act immediately to ensure campus safety. Hartwick College has just gotten approval to NY ALERT—a campus-wide cell phone, email, and text messaging system already in use at nearby SUNY-Oneonta.

Mr. Kelly emphasized that no weapon of any kind is allowed on campus—including sling shots or toy guns. The school is so strict that for a recent play using a prop toy gun, the prop had to be signed in and out of the office of security.

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