Civil liberties groups question anonymous reporting tool

Officials said about half of reports are anonymous.

A “see something, say something” approach to reporting on-campus hazing, bullying, cheating, or suspicious behavior at Virginia colleges has some civil libertarians questioning a technology that higher-education officials insist is necessary to comply with a state law.

Twenty-five colleges throughout Virginia use a web-based incident reporting program made by a Nebraska-based company called Awareity, which markets its Threat Assessment, Incident Management, and Prevention Services (TIPS) system as a way for campus decision makers to prevent security compromises, sniff out plagiarism, and even discover broken streetlamps, among other uses.

Students who submit an Awareity report, however, don’t have to attach their names or contact information to the online submission form. Officials at schools that use the reporting system said it has not yet been used as a tool for a student with a personal vendetta against a classmate, but higher-education observers said the option for anonymity leaves open the possibility.…Read More

Virginia Tech appeals fines from 2007 shooting rampage

According to CNN, Virginia Tech is appealing the $55,000 it was fined by the federal government for failing to provide a timely warning about a shooter on the loose in 2007, the Virginia attorney general said Wednesday.

“The relatively small monetary penalty is not the reason for this appeal. The university has already expended millions as a result of the tragedy,” Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement. “The main purpose of the appeal is to compel the DOE (Department of Education) to treat Virginia Tech fairly and to apply a very poorly defined and subjectively applied federal law consistently and correctly.”

Click here for the full story…Read More

Let cops carry the guns

Police GunOne thing that still surprises me is the number of states willing to allow college and university students to carry concealed weapons on campus. More than 30 years in law enforcement has taught me that any guns on campus…

Focus on higher education security

Rotunda in SunlightThe recent death of a University of Virginia student and the arrest of her former boyfriend for suspected murder once again casts a shadow over the safety of our nation’s colleges.

The high level of media attention paid to this case and other events gives us a sense that campuses are out of control. In reality, our college and university campuses are safe places.

But administrators could do a better job in some areas……Read More

New system combines classroom audio, emergency alert

A new system could help campuses respond to emergencies much quicker.
A new system could help campuses respond to emergencies much quicker.

A new classroom product that combines sound amplification, lecture capture, and emergency alert capabilities in a single system could have a big impact on the safety of K-12 and higher-education classrooms.

The Safe Security system, from Panasonic and Audio Enhancement, features a button on a microphone worn around the instructor’s neck that, when pressed, sends a silent alarm to a school’s central offices and to administrators. Once alerted, school leaders have access to a live video feed courtesy of a networked camera inside the classroom, as well as to the audio feed captured on the microphone, and they can immediately assess what type of emergency is occurring in the classroom.

Jeff Anderson, president of Audio Enhancement, said many teachers wear wireless microphones around their necks as part of standard classroom audio systems, and incorporating a built-in security alert system was a logical next step.…Read More

How to avoid accidental data breaches

Universities house a large amount of personal student and employee data.
Universities present particular challenges in securing sensitive information.

College campuses are centers for learning and exploration, where students and faculty develop, exchange, and trade information. More than most other organizations, colleges and universities are in a continuous state of information sharing and data creation, and they rely heavily on the ability to seamlessly share, store, and protect that information within their communities and among their partners.

What’s more, life on a campus is always in flux. Students and faculty come and go, and their need to access certain information, not to mention physical campus locations such as dormitories and labs, is fluid.

As a result, the university setting causes big headaches for chief information officers and other technology professionals who are charged with securing the data that reside on a university’s computer systems—everything from proprietary research to students’ financial and personal data.…Read More