Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois has become the state’s first community college to be designated as a Ready to Respond Campus by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The Agency launched its Ready to Respond Campus pilot initiative in the spring of 2013 and Richland as well as eight other colleges and universities throughout the state participated in the program.
The intent of the initiative was to enhance the emergency safety and preparedness policies and measures in place at various higher education institutions. The University of Illinois at Urbana also received the designation, but Richland is the only community college so far to do so.
According to college officials at Richland, the school’s emergency plan is being used by the IEMA as the template for other schools around the state. In their efforts to enhance the college’s current emergency management policy, it added domestic violence assistance and sexual assault awareness to its campus outreach programs as well as implementing the National Incident Management System, both of which were key elements in their campaign.
College officials say that the designation provides the school with national recognition as an institution that sets a high standard in ensuring campus safety and protecting its students.
With the number of reported incidents of domestic violence, assault, and gun violence increasing over the last several years, colleges and universities across the country are making campus security a higher priority. With that heightened level of awareness and the growing necessity for increased safety measures, Richland officials also see the designation as an emphasis of the college’s commitment to providing students and faculty with a safe environment.
The college’s mission in the area of emergency management is not complete according to officials, however, as they want to maintain their role as a leader throughout the state and be the consummate example of campus safety across the country.