November 3, 2015
By Eric Smith
In light of recent events, Dominican University is trying to develop strategies to prepare for and cope with gun violence. The most recent effort was a test of Dominican’s alert system. David Perry, associate professor of history, has followed the issue of gun violence very closely and has shared his views on CNN and other news media.
“I know that Dominican is working hard to build better partnerships with local law enforcement and our own security,” said Perry. “We still have plenty of work to do in order to prepare both our security responses and to educate our community.”
Dominican developed a Behavioral Concerns Team (BCT) following the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.
Trudi Goggin, dean of students, is the head of the BCT whose goal is to prevent and observe any instances of violence on campus. Other faculty members in the BCT include John DeConstanza, director of university ministry, and Robbi Byrdsong-Wright, assistant dean of academic success services.
“The BCT is an interdisciplinary team that takes a look at any reports that would be submitted reflecting observable behavior that people might find alarming, distressing or disturbed,” said Goggin.
While the BCT focuses on prevention and observation of violence, the Wellness Center helps students cope with instances of violence and other sources of stress that occur on campus.
Michael Purcell, assistant clinical director for counseling services, regularly meets with students to talk about the stressors in their lives.
“As far as gun violence on campus, I think the best way to handle that problem is to look at it in terms of a public health model,” said Purcell. “It’s something that is really hard to predict but if you’re thinking about it in terms of a public health model you are thinking about the community.”
Purcell stresses the importance of creating a sense of community through outreach and knowledge of public health, but ultimately students need to be active in seeking out resources.
“In some of the campus shootings, there were multiple students who knew something was going on but were reluctant to speak to authority figures,” said Purcell. “Our center and the BCT can only act upon what we know. Students are more likely to see and hear things on campus and we hope that they will inform us if they suspect something is wrong.”