BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The first day of school is around the corner and every parent is thinking about the cost, but most importantly their child’s safety. The state held its Higher Education Public Safety Summit to talk about what they have planned.
State leaders held a Higher Education Safety Summit for all Louisiana colleges and universities. The Commissioner of High Education Dr. Kim Hunter Reed explained what the goal was for the two-day program.
“Two-year and four-year public and private institutions, really focused on trying to make sure we’re prepared for the fall. We’re prepared to keep students safe, and we’re working together to make sure that we have an amazing academic year,” she said.
“And we want to give our parents out there the peace of mind of knowing that their kids are safe on campus,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.
Safety has been on everyone’s mind after the past violent academic school year, and Reed wants to prepare.
“We’re going to hear from national experts,” said Reed. “The FBI is here, Cisco regarding cyber security, State Police, and counterintelligence. So the best experts and the best thinking in the country is here.”
Reed said danger comes in all forms and they must prepare from all angles.
“It can come from internal as well as outside,” she said. “There can be natural disasters. Obviously, we have hurricanes and floods, and ice storms. We’ve had a global pandemic. But we’re also concerned, obviously, about cybersecurity, about mental health issues, and substance abuse issues. So there is a full range of challenges. And so we are here together to make sure that we’re talking through the best response, the best preparation in education and training so that we have all of our higher education ecosystem well-prepared.”
With universities experiencing bomb threats, active shooters on campus, and natural disasters. They said their best strategy for the upcoming school year is knowledge.
“It’s our responsibility to make sure that if a disaster or a threat happens, that we know how to respond appropriately and effectively to keep our students and our campus safe,” said Reed.
Governor John Bel Edwards believes the focus cannot just be crime-related.
“To continue to have conversations around hazing and sexual assault, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. I am very concerned about the rise in fentanyl deaths and mental health,” he said.
Threats, either from violence, or drugs will happen, but preparation, according to these state leaders, will make the difference.