With the start of the new academic year quickly approaching, I want to share with you some updates about the work we have been doing over the past several weeks and what you can expect in the coming semester.
As I have said many times, there is nothing more important to us than ensuring the safety of our campus community. Our internal review of the April 30 tragedy and our response to it is complete, and I will receive the report within the next couple of weeks. Additionally, we will commission a thorough and completely independent external review that will include recommendations on any areas that the reviewers think could improve campus safety or emergency response. We have retained the National Police Foundation (NPF) to lead this process. They will partner with the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) and a cross-functional team of experts in emergency management, communications, behavioral health, and academic and student affairs to conduct this assessment. I expect the team to begin their work in earnest in late August or early September.
In the meantime, we have already taken some steps I want to bring to your attention:
- Community Active Assailant Response Training -- As the new academic year begins, the Department of Safety and Security will offer large-scale active assailant response training for the campus community. Please visit the Emergency Management website to learn more and register to participate.
- Enhanced Police Presence -- You will notice an enhanced police presence on campus as classes resume in the fall. This isn’t because we anticipate any increased threat to our safety. Instead, it is intended to reassure us all of the strength and accessibility of our police force. I encourage you to introduce yourself to the officers you see and share any concerns or questions.
- Increased Security for Large Events -- Beginning this fall, you will see increased security at football games, commencement, and other large events. This includes the use of metal detectors, the enforcement of more restrictive bag policies, and the presence of additional police officers. More specific information will be shared with attendees prior to each event.
- Classroom Safety Information -- The University will install posters in each classroom listing the room number, emergency contact information, and how to execute the three primary action directives given in a NinerAlert: lockdown, shelter in place, and evacuation. You will see these posters installed throughout the fall semester.
Support services are available to faculty and staff through the Employee Assistance Program and to students through the Christine F. Price Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). These services will continue throughout the fall. Everyone is moving at their own pace in recovery, and I encourage you to reach out to our trained counselors if you need to talk with someone.
Additionally, CAPS, the Dean of Students Office, and the Department of Safety and Security have partnered to offer a workshop for faculty and staff on how they can best support students as they return for the fall semester. Topics covered in the workshop will include how to identify students in need of support; understanding available campus resources; facilitating difficult conversations about the shooting; and building a community of care in the classroom. You may register online to attend one of these sessions.
Niner Nation Remembrance Commission
The Niner Nation Remembrance Commission will reconvene in August to chart its work and review research compiled over the summer to gain insight into how others who have experienced similar tragedies have chosen to honor their victims and to memorialize what had taken place in their institutions or communities.
We Are All Niners
Moving forward after a tragedy of this magnitude isn’t easy. When classes begin in August, two important members of the Niner Nation family will be missing. We will never forget Reed and Riley, the injuries sustained by Rami, Sean, Emily, and Drew, or the collective pain we experienced on April 30.
The past few months have shown the world the depth and breadth of Niner Nation. The pride for this special place is evident. The importance of our University to the city and surrounding region has never been more apparent.
You will see the words “We Are All Niners” frequently in the weeks and months ahead, both on campus and off. It isn’t a slogan or a motto. It is a declaration. Together, our future is bright, bold, and strong.
Philip L. Dubois