College and universities frequently hold large-scale, public events.
So, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, many institutions are reviewing their security measures. Allie Grasgreen of Inside Higher Ed has an analysis:
In the weeks and months following Monday’s shocking bombing at the Boston Marathon, in which three people were killed — including one graduate student at Boston University — and 170 wounded, colleges across the country will revisit their security measures to make sure they’re doing everything possible to ensure safety at their major sporting and other events.
And they should, said James Forest, an associate professor and director of the security studies graduate degree program at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. But they should also recognize that when it comes to terrorism, there’s only so much security measures can do.
“There is no 100 percent security possible in this world. Terrorists are humans, and humans figure things out; they figure out ways to overcome obstacles,” Forest said, noting that safety precautions do not help gather intelligence or undermine the ideology that drives terrorists. “Any college or university that doesn’t understand the notion of terrorism … is just setting itself up for a bunch of terror.”
President Obama on Tuesday morning called the bombings an “act of terrorism.” It remains unclear who is responsible, but Department of Homeland Security officials said Tuesday there’s no evidence that the bombings are part of a wider plot. That will be key in whether college officials make any concrete changes in response, said Lou Marciani, director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security at the University of Southern Mississippi, which provides safety certification to organizations (including colleges) that own sports venues.
“If it’s a plot that could go further than the race, then I think you’re going to see beefed up security immediately,” he said, adding that at this time of year there aren’t too many high-traffic events on campuses (unlike fall’s football games or arenas full of basketball fans in the just-finished NCAA tournaments). “Graduation is something they would be cautious about; other than that, unless it’s a plot, I think things will be pretty normal.”
Pennsylvania State University announced Tuesday that no bags, umbrellas, footballs or purses would be allowed inside any campus venues hosting events through Sunday, including the football stadium. This weekend is Penn State’s annual “Blue-White Weekend,” which includes a carnival, football scrimmage and 20 other events. Police will also increase surveillance and security sweeps.
“While not permitting any bags into Beaver Stadium is a significant change from our ordinary routine, it is an important additional layer of security that we are instituting for this event. It brings us in line with most other stadiums across the nation,” Steve Shelow, Penn State’s assistant vice president for police and public safety, said in a statement.
After Boston bombings, colleges revisit security at major events (Inside Higher Ed | News)