Durbin pushes for safer campuses
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin stressed the need for emergency plans on college campuses Sunday during a press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago.
Legislation making its way through Capitol Hill -- the Campus Law Enforcement Emergency Response Act -- requires every college and university to have written emergency response policies and procedures and a system to promptly alert the campus community in the event of an emergency.
The bill also requires every college and university to test those emergency procedures each year, and combines the resources of the departments of Education, Justice and Homeland Security to provide colleges and universities with emergency response expertise, guidance and best practices.
It also creates a federal grant program to help schools get the resources they need to get their safety programs and emergency notification systems up and running.
The bill has been approved by the House and Senate over the past eight months and is waiting to be heard by the House-Senate Conference Committee.
"The tragic events at Northern Illinois University underscore the need for our nation's colleges and universities to have emergency plans in place," Durbin said in a prepared press release. "From all accounts it appears NIU did everything right in responding quickly and comprehensively to the tragedy."
The Campus Law Emergency Response Act is part of a bill that includes the Higher Education Act.