Security fears after shootings

April 20, 2007

The American academic community was in a state of shock this week over the shooting of at least 32 people, including three professors, at Virginia Tech University.

As The Times Higher went to press, fears were growing that the tragic incident could lead to a campus security clampdown with the introduction of restricted areas and airport-style checks and barriers.

One Virginia Tech academic said that his colleagues were reeling from the event.

Stuart Feigenbaum, a hospitality and tourism professor, told The Times Higher : "One of the things that makes this so tragic is that a university is supposed to be an open environment.

"This university has always been very security conscious and has done everything to keep people safe short of having metal detectors everywhere.

We have to ask, should a university become like an airport where people have to go through gates and barriers before they gain access to a class?"

Nicholas Kiersey, an Irish PhD student at the university who knew one of the victims, said: "I have taught students whose parents work for the CIA or hold senior military positions. This will hit policy-making America hard."

The American Council on Education said that campus officials would revisit their own security and emergency preparedness policies.

Universities UK sent a message of condolence to students and staff at Virginia Tech.

Sheffield University confirmed that four of its students on a one-year study abroad programme at the university were safe and well.

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