President Charles M. Vest has appointed a 22-member Task Force on Campus Security to help develop policies and plans for campus security and safety for the immediate and the long-term future.
At the same time, Vest sent a letter to parents of MIT students describing security on campus and measures taken to enhance it since Sept. 11.
In announcing the task force on Monday, Vest said, " While our safety and security procedures are in good shape for ordinary times, these are not ordinary times. We need to examine and address questions of heightened campus security and their implications for our community, and we need to do so quickly."
Vest asked the task force, chaired by Executive Vice President John R. Curry, to present initial recommendations by mid-November.
He said he expected the task force to address issues relating to biological, nuclear and chemical hazards; access and openness of the campus; information policies; and privacy. Breaking into smaller working groups aided by experts where needed, Vest asked for recommendations on issue identification, fact-finding, risk assessment and strategies to be considered by the task force as a whole.
"Realizing that this is a great deal to ask of you, I truly appreciate your willingness to take on this added responsibility," Vest said. "A relatively brief but intense period of work will, I believe, result in a more secure campus, which still sustains the values of openness and community that we cherish."
The task force had its first meeting Tuesday.
Besides Curry, the group's members are Vice President for Human Resources Laura A. Avakian, Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict, Vice President for Information Systems James D. Bruce, News Office Director Kenneth D. Campbell, Chancellor Phillip L. Clay, Dean for Graduate Students Isaac M. Colbert, Undergraduate Association President Jaime E. Devereaux, Acting Police Chief John E. Driscoll, Director of Public Safety Anne P. Glavin, Professor Stephen C. Graves (chair of the faculty), Director of Project Development Stephen D. Immerman, Managing Director for Environmental Programs and Rick Management/Senior Counsel Jamie Lewis Keith, Medical Director and Head of MIT Medical Dr. William M. Kettyle, Dean for Undergraduate Education Robert P. Redwine, Professor Richard J. Samuels, Graduate Student Council President Dilan A. Seneviratne, Director of Facilities Victoria V. Sirianni, Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President Janet L. Snover, Institute Professor SheilaE. Widnall, Vice President KathrynA. Willmore and Professor PatrickH. Winston.
In his letter to parents, Vest said:
"We have enhanced security on campus generally and are in the process of reviewing all of our security arrangements. MIT has a professional deputized police force that patrols both the campus and the neighborhoods in Boston where many of our fraternities and sororities are located. The Campus Police are always on hand with the experience and expertise to handle a wide range of problems. During the crisis, they were here in force, at all hours, to provide protection and reassurance throughout the campus.
"We have emergency response plans and protocols, including evacuation plans, for emergency situations but are intensively reviewing them to see where improvements might be made.
"Over the past year, we have upgraded the life safety systems in the student residences, and the fire alarms on campus are tied in directly to the Cambridge Fire Department and to the Campus Police.
"We are in continual, direct contact with the law enforcement, intelligence, security and civic agencies at the local, state and federal levels.
"There is a medical center and small hospital right on campus, and we have formal ties and close working relations with the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.
"We have a communications system that can reach all students very rapidly if necessary.
"Every student living group--on-campus residences, fraternities, sororities and independent living groups--has a resident tutor or advisor, and all on-campus residences for undergraduates have housemasters as well. They play an important role in providing information and support as well as connections with other sources of support on campus."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 3, 2001.