GW: No plan to up security after Boston attacks

The deadly explosions in the Boston area last week will not impact security measures for the Commencement ceremony May 19, the University’s top security official said.

Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said GW would continue to work with U.S. Park Police for the University-wide ceremony held on the National Mall. He would not provide specific plans for security but said the procedures would be “based upon any credible threats.”

“We will not discuss specific security plans and procedures but security will be adequate for the ceremony,” Darnell said in an email. University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said Friday that the events did not change the University’s plans.

Graduates faced heightened security in 2010 when first lady Michelle Obama headlined the ceremony. Students and families arrived early to pass through metal detectors and showed photo identification in order to enter the cordoned-off seating area.

Darnell wrote in the GW Today newsletter that neither the District nor any of GW’s campuses had received credible threats since bombs went off at the Boston Marathon on Monday. He added that GW would maintain its current level of security on campus or at University events.

“We are maintaining our normal security operations, but we are reiterating to our officers to always be on the lookout for suspicious or unusual behavior or activity,” Darnell wrote.

The message followed reports of letters addressed to President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., containing a deadly poison called ricin, which prompted the evacuation and lockdown of two Senate buildings Wednesday.

Darnell said the University works with its contractor, Pitney Bowes, to “provide on-going training to our mail handlers on how to spot suspicious mail and packages and what steps to take to notify to notify the proper authorities,” adding that mail has “already received an appropriate level of screening at the USPS distribution center before it arrives on campus.”

At least two colleges – the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Arizona – have considered bulking up security for large-scale events including commencement ceremonies, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Measures could include blocking off more areas before the event begins, adding surveillance and hiring more security guards to monitor suspicious individuals.

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