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Campus Safety and Security Survey Results Released

July 16, 2009

Emergency preparedness is a priority for all colleges and universities, with a large majority reporting that they have instituted campus-wide emergency preparedness plans covering a wide spectrum of possible emergencies, according to results of the National Campus Safety and Security Project survey. The survey probed campus preparedness for all types of threats-natural disasters, acts of violence, and cyber disruptions. The project was funded in part by the Lilly Endowment. Responses to the lengthy survey, launched in August 2008, were received from 342 institutions.

Highlights of the results include:

  • 85 percent of all survey respondents (81 percent of four-year private colleges and universities, 90 percent of four-year publics, and 85 percent of community colleges) have an emergency preparedness plan that at least meets the standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.
    • More than 40 percent of those without a plan were near completion of the development of one.
    • Of the higher education institutions with an NFPA-compliant emergency preparedness plan, 97 percent met the standard of preparation for a natural disaster; 98 percent met the standard of preparation for acts of violence; and 76 percent were adequately prepared for a pandemic. More than half of all plans also cover cyber disruptions.
      • However, only 30 percent of respondents have a business continuity plan that covers the entire campus, which is designed to help the campus recover quickly from an emergency situation.
    • 89 percent said their emergency preparedness plans were regularly monitored and updated at least annually.
    • More than half the respondents conduct emergency preparation drills with campus staff and other groups at least annually.
    • More than 90 percent of four-year public colleges and almost two-thirds of private institutions have entered into mutual aid agreements with police, public health, or other agencies to share resources and lend assistance during emergency situations.
    • Two-thirds of respondents said they increased their budget allocations for emergency preparation and planning.
      • However, only 3 percent have campus fees that are dedicated solely to emergency planning.
  • Most respondents (87 percent) said they distribute information about their emergency preparation plans to their campus communities by paper (such as posting on campus buildings, in publications, etc.); about half posted this information on the campus Web site, and one-third included information on the campus Intranet site.
    • About 60 percent of institutions include information about emergency preparedness in faculty/staff orientations and student orientations.
  • Two-thirds of public and private four-year colleges and universities have a plan in place for communicating with students, faculty, and staff during and after an emergency.
    • More than three-quarters of the institutions with emergency communication plans use electronic means (e-mail, Web pages, text messaging, etc.) to notify their students and staff of the occurrence of emergency situations.
      • However, more than 70 percent of the institutions that use text messaging require faculty, students, and staff to "opt-in" to this system.
    • Fewer institutions have procedures in place that would allow faculty, staff, and students to report their locations during and after an emergency.
  • 77 percent of respondents have adopted an on-campus emergency preparedness committee that includes membership from a wide variety of departments (such as student affairs, business office, public safety office, and provost). About 70 percent of the largest institutions (those with more than 15,000 students) have hired an emergency manager with sole responsibility for emergency planning and preparation.
    • Smaller institutions were less likely to have a manager dedicated solely to emergency preparation.
    • Only one-third of respondents said their institutions' president was represented on the emergency preparation committees.
  • Use of security cameras is common on many campuses, but other types of security technology are less common.
    • 93 percent of public four-year colleges and 81 percent of four-year private non-profit institutions use security cameras to monitor outside activities at some of their residence halls, academic buildings, and other facilities (but just one-fifth of respondents said cameras were used to monitor activities at all or most of these facilities).
    • In contrast, fewer than half of the respondents use perimeter access cards to control entry into residence halls, libraries, student unions, or other on-campus facilities.
  • Mental health services are seen as an important component of campus security and safety.
    • More than two-thirds of public and private four-year institutions have established a behavioral assessment team (BAT), which deals with mental health crises with faculty, students, and staff.
      • Most (93 percent) of BATs focus on student mental health crises; about two-thirds also include faculty and staff crises.
    • Nearly all public and private non-profit four-year institutions provide mental health services through their campus health centers.
    • About half of four-year public and private schools provide health insurance that covers the cost of mental health services.

NACUBO Contacts:

Ken Redd
Director, Research and Policy Analysis

Anne Gross
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs