Speakers to be added for safety in dorms

In an effort to further enhance emergency communication services offered by the University, public address speakers will be installed on the Queens Campus.

Joining other services, such as emergency emails and text and voice messaging, the new P.A. system will broadcast audio messages, providing the St. John’s community with information and instructions in the event of an on-campus crisis.

According to Thomas Lawrence, vice president of public safety, the speakers are slated to be installed in the Residence Village first and then are planned to be put in the hallways of all the buildings on campus.

Exterior speakers are also planned to be set up in areas where there are high amounts of activity.

He hopes to have the Queens campus equipped with the system by the end of March.

“I feel the use of a public address system will be a viable tool to reach a substantial population of our community on campus in the event of an emergency,” Lawrence said.

“Being that the Residence Village is occupied 24/7 and has close to 3,000 occupants at any time…I felt that this should be the first location outfitted with the Public Address system.”

The Public Safety vice president says plans to use a P.A. system originated in June 2007 during a meeting among University officials to review St. John’s emergency response plan.

He also said that messages from the speakers will mainly be given from the command center in the public safety office, but the system will also have the capability of “being activated from a remote location.”

The speakers, which will vary in size depending on location, will be used for only emergencies and access to the system will only be given to members of Public Safety and other identified University affiliates, Lawrence added.

The Queens campus will not be the only place where the P.A. system will be implemented.

Lawrence mentioned that off-campus facilities, such as
the Bartilucci Center and the Seton Complex, are planned to be outfitted with speakers as well as buildings on the Manhattan and Staten Island campuses.

In the future, Lawrence hopes to add the use of telephones in the classroom to the list of emergency notification tools.

“This system will allow Public Safety to call the phones in all classrooms in the event of an emergency and give directions and updates,” he said.

“We think that the installation of phones in all classrooms would enhance our communication ability on campus.”

Some students were optimistic about the new system.

“It could be a good thing,” said junior Thomas Lamkin. “People forget their cell phones all the time and may not
have access to a computer during a time of emergency, so this would help.”

“You can never be too safe,” he added.

Mike Lyons shared similar feelings.

“In case of an emergency, it could be helpful, but if it’s used for other things, like daily morning announcements, then
it could just be a distraction and annoying,” said the senior.

Other students think the addition of public address speakers may be too much.

“I feel its overkill,” said sophomore Mirage Patel.

“I think the current system is good enough and we should just make the text messaging service mandatory to sign up for.”

Sophomore Katie Traber felt that efforts should be focused in other places.

“I understand the whole safety issue, but I just think there are things that are needed more,” she said.

“The world isn’t going to end if we don’t get new speakers.”