This year at Exeter Summer, in contrast to the usual nearly 800, there have been far fewer students enrolled — under 400. “It has been more manageable”, said Paul Gravel, the director of Campus Safety, noting that the lower number has made his job easier. Also, he said, “This is a good group of students.” Although Covid has presented new challenges for Campus Safety, it has also been the reason that other issues have become less common.
A smaller population of students means a smaller amount of what passes for crime. “At this point in the session, usually there are half a dozen cases of theft,” Mr. Gravel said. But he said that it has been a ‘slow’ session so far, one with virtually no missing items and thefts, which have usually been common in past summer sessions.
Students wandering off campus has also been an issue over the past summers, but with the stricter regulations put in place about staying on campus, the number of cases have also been negligible this year.
A new system has been put in place this year at Exeter Summer. PEA Alert, a system powered by software company Everbridge, allows for communication with the students in times of absolute emergency. Bad weather, lockdown, etc — PEA Alert allows for speedy, effective communication through quick text messaging and email. When a PEA Alert goes out, students need to act promptly, doing what the alert tells them to do. This usually comes in the form of going inside one of the buildings within the campus, meaning that carrying around your student ID (which allows for you to access the buildings around campus) at all times is crucial to each individual’s safety. In the coming week or so, there will be a lockdown drill.
About 3 years ago, there was a case of a missing student at Phillips Exeter Academy. The investigation lasted a day, with the help of the Exeter police department, state police, and the FBI, before he was found, safe. Amazingly, when Mr. Gravel sent out an email looking for volunteers for a search party, in 15 minutes about 35 people signed up for it. “It showed how tight and collaborative the town of Exeter is,” Mr. Gravel stated.
The world is not a perfect place. However, faculty members like Mr. Gravel allow for us students to experience Phillips Exeter Academy at its fullest potential in a stressful time like this. Safety is something we all take for granted; something that needs more appreciation. The implementation of new protocols is allowing Exeter Summer to ease back into its regular routine, back to normalcy; but in order to do so effectively, students need to collaborate, make sure they are following rules, and communicate effectively. “Enjoy the time while you’re here,” Mr Gravel said .