University of Florida: Office of the President
Photo: Courtesy of The Independent Florida Alligator Charles Roop, Alligator Photographer
Dear students, faculty, staff, concerned parents and others in the university
community: The deaths of 32 people at the hands of a gunman Monday at
Virginia Tech have stunned the entire nation, especially those of us in
academia. Our thoughts go out to the victims and to those who lost loved ones
in this heinous and senseless act.
In the wake of this horrific event, I know your concerns, like mine, have turned to the question of how
prepared we are at the University of Florida if such an event occurred here.
First, the University of Florida Police Department, a nationally and state accredited organization, trains
regularly for a variety of possible emergency situations, including just such a scenario: a gunman on
campus. UFPD, which enjoys highly successful collaboration with law enforcement agencies throughout
the state, conducts exercises in conjunction with the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua
County Sheriff's Office and has a thorough and extensive response plan. For security reasons, I cannot go
into the details of that plan, but rest assured that our law enforcement agencies consider every
contingency and work hard together to provide a safe secure campus environment. With the lives and
well-being of more than 50,000 young people at stake, we take this responsibility seriously.
We also have in place an extensive communication plan that combines mass simultaneous e-mail
notification, UF home page postings, text messaging and media alerts to get out emergency information
as quickly as possible. Our experiences during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons provided a good
opportunity to hone those plans and improve upon them. UFPD and other campus officials and community
leaders will be meeting in the days and weeks to come to review what happened at Virginia Tech and see
if there are any lessons to be learned and applied here at UF.
Perhaps the most important security measure we can all take is to pay attention to what's going on
around us. Take notice of unusual behavior in others. Call 911 immediately if you see someone on campus
with a weapon. If you or someone you know needs counseling, please take advantage of our staff of highly
trained professional counselors. Service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
We at the University of Florida are especially sensitive to the
type of situation that occurred at Virginia Tech. Seventeen
ears ago, we had our own nightmare the murders of five
students. Although those did not occur on campus, they
affected the university profoundly. To this day, our approach to
campus security is influenced by those events of 1990. For
instance, campus housing is locked 24 hours a day, and a key is
required to access not only each building but also each floor
within each building.
Finally, the university has planned a candlelight vigil for later
this week in memory of those whose lives were lost at Virginia
ech. I hope those of you who can will join us.
Keeping the campus community safe and secure is our No. 1
priority at the University of Florida, and we will continue to
seek new ways to fulfill that mission. Life is far too precious to take for granted.