Department of Education policy changes affect Mac security

By Hannah Johnson

The U.S. Department of Education has updated its safety rules and requirements for post-secondary schools in ways that significantly affect Macalester Safety and Security. The biggest change requires colleges to keep detailed records of fires, fire drills and system tests. Under the new requirements, Safety and Security is obligated to submit an annual report of fire records to the federal government. The report must also be published, which will likely be done as an addendum to the Annual Crime Report Macalester already files.

The report will include the number of fires on campus, the cause of the fire, the damage done, any injuries, the number of fire drills and other tests of fire prevention systems.

These new requirements also call for certain fire detector and prevention systems to be in place.

“We are fortunate,” said Director of Safety and Security Terry Gorman. “We have all these things-detectors, alarms, sprinkler systems.”

Safety and Security was told several months ago that these new requirements would be coming in and started collecting fire system data last year in preparation. They thought they actually over-prepared, but it turned out they needed all of the data they had collected, Gorman said.

Over J-term this year, Safety and Security did try a fire drill in the academic buildings in order to gauge how much work is yet to be done on these evacuation drills.

“We learned a lot,” Gorman said. “It’s going to be challenging.”

Along with the new fire requirements, other policies were updated as well. The definition for hate crimes was expanded to include more criteria, including sexual orientation. Schools are also required to update their missing student policies. Safety and Security hope to unveil the secure missing person website in the next month.

Safety and Security is implementing the changes while continuing to manage routine security concerns like neighborhood crimes and theft of student property. Safety and Security informs students about these types of incidents, like when an older male sexual exhibitionist was spotted walking near campus earlier this week.

Gorman reminds students to keep an eye on their belongings and walk in groups at night. Macalester Safe Walk is available for any student’s use. Students are also encouraged to sign up for MacAlert, a text messaging system that sends out important security information. Students can sign up for MacAlert in the Campus Resources tab of 1600Grand.