Student Defense: or Where’s the Popo ho?

As a student, I consider it important to know that my safety is important to my university.  With all of the tuition I pay, fees they force from me, and fines people pay for parking without proper passes, having a good sense of safety is a minimal return on my investment.  Enter the campus alert system. 


After the craziness known as the Virginia tech Massacre in 2007, parents and students have been hyper sensitive towards their environment.  To aid the hysteria, many schools have adopted an alert system that notifies students and the general public about potential violence and emergency situations on campus.  Subscribers will receive emails or text alert messages giving detailed information and instructions on how to remain safe.  Good … right? 


Well after this alert system went into effect at my own beloved VCU, I started receiving messages that range from weather closures, to random acts of violence.  I have seen traffic alerts, tornado warnings, and even school opening delay messages.  The most disturbing message came a few nights ago when I saw a message that warned me of a Mob assault and armed robbery (detailed at  I knew then that the school I had been attending, had gone straight to hell in a pretty little hand basket. 


Yes, my school has approximately 32,000 students.  I understand that with so many people in one place pandemonium can, and often does, take place.  I am just a bit scared though about my personal safety as the scene of the violent crimes is creeping closer and closer to my home.  Furthermore, I have night classes, and often do not get home until after 10 PM.  


Am I wrong for considering the idea of going armed on campus as a good thing?  I mean the controversy over it is gaining national news coverage as I’m not the only student considering attending school while armed for bear.  I am a disabled person as well.  I need to know that my safety is being taken care of.  I sympathize with my nondisabled cohort.  Want to stop the madness?  Increase security and make it stick.  Otherwise, we’re calling campus police escorts, bringing our own night sticks, and generally preparing for war in time of peace.

VCU Launches ‘Year of Freedom: Confronting Our Past, Facing Our Future’ to Reflect on the Continuing Impact of the Civil War and Emancipation

VCU’s “Year of Freedom: Confronting Our Past, Facing Our Future,” which begins this month, features a variety of guest speakers, activities and lectures that reflect on the important course of events in the war in 1862 and 1863 that led to the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“We think this is a great opportunity for people to learn about what happened in the past and think about how it impacts us today,” said John Kneebone, Ph.D., chair of the Department of History and chair of the Year of Freedom committee.

Kneebone said the proposal for VCU’s Year of Freedom was put together in the spring of 2011, when Catherine Ingrassia, who was associate dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences at the time, convened a meeting of interested faculty from the College of Humanities and Sciences, the School of Education, the School of the Arts and VCU Libraries. Kneebone was named committee chair in August of 2011.

Kneebone said the Civil War and Emancipation constitute the most important events in American history. Though the war would not end until 1865, the Battle of Antietam (also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg) took place on Sept. 17, 1862. And while the battle was tactically inconclusive, it was a strategic victory for the Union, allowing Abraham Lincoln to preliminarily issue his Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order created to free slaves in the 10 states in rebellion effective on Jan. 1, 1863.

“I can’t think of any year in Virginia history that has impacted us like 1862,” Kneebone said.

And even 150 years later, the Civil War and Emancipation bring conflicted perspectives in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, with celebrations of southern pride for the descendants of Confederate families and recollections of pain for the descendants of enslaved African-Americans.

“It’s a very complicated and difficult conversation to have,” Kneebone said. “On one side, remembering the war is a way to celebrate southern heritage with re-enactors, and, on the other side, Emancipation conjures up all of the pain of slavery.”

VCU’s Year of Freedom is meant to launch a conversation about that conflict on campus and in the community.

“We’re right in the middle of Richmond, a city filled with memorials to the losing side of a civil war. And we also enroll a large, diverse student body,” Kneebone said. “By the end of the year, we may have irreconcilable differences but we’re hopeful that we’ll have a common story that can be understood, if not embraced.”

Already this year, activities have included:
Lauranette L. Lee and Paige Newman of the Virginia Historical Society delivered a lecture titled “Unknown No Longer: A New Database to Track the Enslaved.”
VCU and the World Affairs Council of Greater Richmond presented an international panel of experts discussing the topic of “Freedom and Social Memory in Global Perspective.”
A live streaming was held at the University Student Commons Theater of a discussion at the National Museum of American History on the accumulation of several factors – including action by enslaved people to find freedom with the Union Army, the success at arms of the Confederates, political pressures in the North, lobbying by Frederick Douglass and the Union Army’s bloody victory at Antietam – that led to Abraham Lincoln issuing the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

In addition, on Thursday, Sept. 20, Ta-Nehisi Coates, writer and senior editor for The Atlantic, will speak to a class in the morning and then deliver a public address titled “The Civil War and Emancipation in the age of Obama” at the University Student Commons Forum Room at 5 p.m. Coates writes about culture, politics and social issues for and the magazine and is the author of “The Beautiful Struggle,” a book about growing up in Baltimore during the age of the crack epidemic.

Additional activities will be held through the year, including a campus visit in November by the HistoryMobile, the traveling, interactive exhibition on Virginians in the Civil War and Emancipation-themed films being shown during the VCU Southern Film Festival in February.

A complete listing of activities and events may be found at

An RVAMaverick creation.

Many U.S. Schools Are Unprepared for Another Pandemic

Washington, DC, August 30, 2012 – Less than half of U.S. schools address pandemic preparedness in their school plan, and only 40 percent have updated their school plan since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, according to a study published in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).


A team of researchers from Saint Louis University collected and analyzed survey responses from approximately 2,000 school nurses serving primarily elementary, middle, and high schools in 26 states to ascertain whether schools were prepared for another pandemic, particularly focusing on infectious disease disasters. Pandemic preparedness is critical not only because of ramifications of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, but also because of the threat of a future pandemic or an outbreak of an emerging infectious disease, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome.  School preparedness for all types of disasters, including biological events, is mandated by the U.S. Department of Education.


The team found that less than one-third of schools (29.7 percent) stockpile any personal protective equipment, and nearly a quarter (22.9 percent) have no staff members trained on the school’s disaster plan. One-third (33.8 percent) of schools report training students on infection prevention less than once per year. Only 1.5 percent of schools report stockpiling medication in anticipation of another pandemic. On a positive note, although only 2.2 percent of schools require school nurses to receive the annual influenza vaccine, the majority (73.7 percent) reported having been vaccinated for the 2010/2011 season.


“Findings from this study suggest that most schools are even less prepared for an infectious disease disaster, such as a pandemic, compared to a natural disaster or other type of event,” says Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC, lead study author and associate professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health.  “Despite the recent H1N1 pandemic that disproportionately affected school-age children, many schools do not have plans to adequately address a future biological event.”


The researchers conclude that U.S. schools must continue to address gaps in infectious disease emergency planning, including developing better plans, coordinating these plans with local and regional disaster response agency plans, and testing the plan through disaster drills and exercises. Whenever possible, school nurses should be involved in these planning efforts, as healthcare professionals can best inform school administrators about unique aspects of pandemic planning that need to be included in school disaster plans.