I was just reading an old story about a student who got arrested for posting a threat on Facebook.
I used to be an RA at a small college residence way back when the Internet was strange and new. I think there was only one or two people in the building that had their own computers. This was in Canada, I can’t remember whether there was even a ban on gun at our campus. I know that a couple of my friends got in a bit of trouble for shooting at pigeons on the school’s farm complex. I think they just got a warning from the school. I invited one of my other friends to go hunting with me on my dad’s farm and I seem to remember his car trunk being pretty well armed when we left the campus. There was never any gun related violence in the dorms or elsewhere on campus. My only memory of dealing with violence in my job as RA involved physically detaining a very large, very angry and very drunk basketball player. I was one of about a dozen people who were blocking his access to the guy that he wanted to fight. The big guy was well-liked by most if not all of the campus policemen and RAs and there were no punches thrown, just a lot of shoving.
Reading about the campus-wide instant messaging system that alerted the Akron student body to the event and reassured them that they were safe made me wonder if measures like that effectively increase security. If that technology had existed when a fire broke out at the residence where my wife had been living in the early 90s, it could have been evacuated more effectively.
I wrote a short paragraph about how an effective multifaceted warning system could have saved lives at Virginia Tech. When I was fact checking I saw that a system was put in place there after April 16, 2007 and that it malfunctioned the first time that it was needed (a gunshot was heard on campus, but it turned out to be a nailgun cartridge). An important part of any warning system these days is cell phone text messages. The mass texting vendor had a hardware failure shortly after it was triggered.
I think communication technology can and will save lives at schools. I also think that individual alertness and preparedness are probably more important.