Cho Seung-Hui made history on Monday, April 16 when he shot and killed 32 people and injured at least 17 others on Virginia Polytechnic Institute’s campus before turning the gun on himself. It was the deadliest rampage shooting ever to occur in this country.
Although nothing of this nature has ever occurred at NMU, the university still has a comprehensive policy in place for such emergencies, said Cindy Paavola, Northern’s communications and marketing director.
“[The plan] covers just about everything,” she said. “Weather-related, chemical and also an active shooter.”
Along with this all-encompassing plan, Northern also has an emergency management team, consisting of high-level administrators and Public Safety officials.
Each person on the emergency management team is also responsible for crisis management in their own specific areas. For example, the housing department has their own emergency plan, as do Dining Services and Facilities. If any sort of crisis were to occur on campus, Northern’s emergency management team would meet in a designated spot and decide what would be the best action to take, Paavola said.
Typically, if a crisis were to occur, students would be notified by the Dean of Students Office, she said.
Paavola said notifying students of a crisis could be done in several ways. The university would post something on its homepage, similar to a snow day notice. Also, an e-mail would be sent to all students notifying them of the situation.
“We would have a decision hopefully within minutes,” she said. “We’re very speedy.”
Northern had to use their emergency management team during the Dead River dam flood of 2003, as it was unsure if the flood would reach campus.
“We know that [NMU] students have more [Internet] access. If one student got that e-mail, they’d turn around and tell five other students,” Pavvola said. “But, with students and employees in transit, you can do everything in your power and still miss people.”