Roanoke College

Campus Safety Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Does the College have an emergency response plan in place?
A: Yes. Roanoke has for key administrators an Emergency/Crisis Guidelines Manual includes (but is not limited to) plans for events such as harm to students, fire, bomb threats, etc. When an incident happens on campus, the College convenes its Crisis Management Team, composed of mid-level and senior administration, to address issues that may impact the College. Additionally, Campus Safety officers have a close working relationship with residence hall staff, including professional Area Coordinators and student RAs (Resident Advisors). Residence hall staff members are trained to call Campus Safety to assist with any situation where violence or strong emotions exist. The Crisis Management Team notifies the appropriate members of the campus community when an incident does occur.

Q: Is the College re-evaluating its response plans in light of the tragedy at Virginia Tech?
A: Yes. A task force was appointed to study such issues in May and has completed its work. In addition, the College routinely monitors its safety and security issues and makes adjustments as necessary.

Q: What is the College's "lockdown" policy?
A: It is agreed by campus law enforcement and security professionals that a "lockdown" of a college campus is impractical. Guidelines for responding to armed individuals were developed after the Columbine High school tragedy but are not completely applicable at colleges or universities where many buildings are spread across many acres. A true lockdown of all campus buildings can actually prevent emergency responders from accessing the scene and also can prevent people from seeking safe shelter. Many campuses are now evaluating "shelter-in-place" or seek safe shelter policies. The purpose of this model is to ensure that people stay inside and are not exposed to danger. Roanoke College has developed and is distributing guidelines to instruct individuals on how to seek safe shelter.

Q: How does the College notify students, faculty and staff about an emergency situation?
A: Maroon Alerts is a new text messaging and email distribution system to help the college reach students, faculty and staff quickly. In addition, students are notified about campus safety issues via e-mail and word of mouth by staff including the residence hall staff. The campus phone system allows for campus-wide phone alerts or voice mail messages to College phones. Campus Safety vehicles are also equipped with loudspeakers that can be used to broadcast audio messages outdoors.

Q: How are emergency communications coordinated between Roanoke College Campus Safety and the Salem Police Department?
A: Roanoke College has a close working relationship with the Salem Police Department, and the College maintains direct radio contact with the police. In the event of a 911 call, the notification goes directly to Salem dispatch for fire, EMS or police response. At the same time, Salem notifies the College via radio contact so the safety officers on campus can respond immediately.

Q: Will the College conduct any training for faculty and staff regarding emergency situations?
A: Yes, the College is currently planning informational sessions for faculty and staff. Campus Safety officers are already trained. All of our officers receive the same comprehensive academy training as the local police. They are also appointed Armed Special Conservators of the Peace by the Circuit Court and comply with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services certification requirements.

 An All Hazards Community Checklist has been developed to help give the campus community suggested actions for a variety of emergency situations.

Q: What safety resources are in place at the College?
A: Emergency phones are placed around campus in strategic locations. Red emergency phones provide direct contact with the campus switchboard during the day and the Campus Safety Office during the evening. Red phones are located in the following buildings: Olin Hall, Miller Hall, Lucas Hall, Trout Hall, Trexler Hall, Life Science Building, Fintel Library, Alumni Gym, West Hall and Bast Center.

 Yellow courtesy telephone boxes are located outside residence halls and the Belk Fitness Center. Those phones can be used to call any campus telephone number including campus safety. The courtesy phones also have an emergency button that dials 911 (City of Salem Police, Fire and Rescue).


 Maroon Alerts will notify campus community in weather and other emergencies.


Q: What policies does the College have in place to deal with a student who shows signs of mental problems?
A: As seen at Virginia Tech, the emotional state of just one student can become a crisis. Some of the most effective safety practices at Roanoke are regular meetings to discuss students who appear to be having difficulties. As a result of these meetings, troubled students are connected to appropriate support offices.

Additionally, a faculty member can refer a student to the attention of the counseling center in two ways:

  1. The student is aware of the issues of concern and is sent or brought to the Counseling Center by the faculty member for appropriate help and evaluation.
  2. The faculty member's concern comes directly to the Counseling Center without the student's knowledge. The Counseling Center staff will evaluate the issue and determine a proper response including, but not limited to:
    • Contacting Residence Life for follow-up
    • Contacting Residence Life for an immediate contact
    • Calling for a Counseling Center intervention

Resources to students in need are provided by Health Services, the College Counseling Center, the Goode-Pasfield Center for Learning and Teaching or through professional resources in the Roanoke Valley.

Q: When are College resources used in handling a mental health referral and when are outside resources involved?
A: The Counseling Center routinely handles the mental health needs of the campus. That involves regular counseling sessions, crisis intervention (including assessment and referral), substance abuse assessment and referral. In severe emergency situations, the Counseling Center would use the resources provided by Respond - a 24-hour mental health assessment service provided by Lewis-Gale Psychiatric Center. If Respond is used, the College would have one of the counselors go to Respond with the affected? student in question.

Q: What options does the College have in dealing with extreme cases of mental health episodes?
A: When a mental health crisis arises, the Counseling Center and the Office of Student Affairs (including Residence Life, Health Center and Campus Safety) work closely together to address the issue. In extreme cases, the following possibilities exist:

  1. an involuntary withdrawal - see Appendix Q of the Student Handbook: Student Experiencing a Mental Health Episode or Crisis Policy
  2. taking out a Temporary Detaining Order (TDO)
  3. in-patient psychiatric care - see Information Regarding Return Of Roanoke College Students to Campus Following A Psychiatric Hospitalization.

Q: What about door locks on classrooms?
A: There are both pros and cons to interior locking door locks, and the college is waiting to see the recommendations of the Governors Review Panel prior to making a final decision.

Q: Can parents sign up for Maroon Alerts?
A: Although Maroon Alerts are intended primarily for students, faculty and staff, it is possible for parents to sign up if they wish. The College does not plan to use Maroon Alerts as a primary method of contacting parents.

Q: I don't have text messaging on my cell phone. will I still be notified by email?
A: Yes, the college will continue to use all-campus e-mails to notify the campus community of emergency situations. In weather cases, the college will also notify local news media as it has in the past. Maroon Alerts also offers an e-mail distribution also so even those who do not use text messaging can sign up for e-mail delivery of Maroon Alerts. E-mail sign up is a separate step so even those who sign up for text messaging need to log into Maroon Alerts and enter their preferred e-mail.