Its been close to four years since Western Kentucky University experienced the tragic murder of Pellville, Ky., freshman Katie Autry. Since that time, both the University and the state government have made on-campus safety a top priority.
Governor Ernie Fletcher's Task Force on Campus Safety was in Bowling Green on Wednesday, March 28, 2007, to receive feedback from Western officials, students and the community about campus safety .
"I feel that they do well here. I believe that since they did have tragedy on their campus they're more aware than some of the others," Task Force chairperson, Gail Minger said.
Western Vice-President of Student Affairs and Campus Services, Gene Tice said Autry's death as well as the Cherry Hall fire last year is what got them to take campus safety more seriously.
"We understand that we're not immune from crimes like any town or community. We constantly must evaluate the safety, the personal safety on our campus," Tice said.
The forum provided little dialogue, which Minger said could be from fear of what the Task Force's real agenda is.
"Its unfortunate that administrators across the Commonwealth get their guard up or feel like we're attacking them and that's not what the purpose of this is all about," Minger said.
One topic that received major discussion was fire safety in all buildings, which Tice said the university is dedicated to.
"All residence halls have been sprinkled for some time. Fire suppression systems ... smoke detectors. All the kitchens have fire suppression in them," Tice said.
Issues such as alcohol and sexual abuse on campus were also discussed at the forum.
Minger hopes forums like this and the report on college safety the Task Force will present to Governor Fletcher will make life on campus safer for everyone.
The Task Force also held forums at Northern Kentucky University, University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University to assess safety on those campuses.
Minger said the Task Force's recommendations for safer campuses will be completed sometime this summer.