Informed faculty crucial

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Even though the story has migrated over time from newspapers’ front pages to the back of our minds, the happenings of April 16, 2007 will have everlasting repercussions.
On that day, in response to the nation’s largest mass shooting on a college campus, universities across the country offered condolences and a helping hand to the Virginia Tech community.
In the weeks that followed, those same colleges and universities scrambled to prevent the same horrors from happening on their own campuses. New plans were put in place, and old plans revised, to handle an active-shooter scenario.
Northern Michigan University did this, too, but until recently, neglected one important step – publicizing the plan’s existence.
Information about the new NMU active-shooter plan was not widely distributed until Public Safety Director Ken Chant sent an e-mail to deans on Sept. 11, 2007.
Nearly five months had passed- two summer sessions and three weeks of this fall term- from the time of the Virginia Tech shooting until Northern Michigan University attempted to adequately inform the people who are the first line of defense in such a situation- the faculty.
According to the policy, professors are expected to take an important role in ensuring our safety, as well as their own. If an attack occurs, faculty are instructed to barricade doors, shut off lights and post a sign indicating the location of those injured. Didn’t NMU students deserve an informed faculty at the time of the policy’s inception, rather than five months after the fact?
In reporting this issue, The North Wind learned that multiple professors and administrators were unaware of the new policy up until the recent e-mail notification, and even afterward remained vague on the details.
Chant’s three-line e-mail instructed individual deans to convey the plan to department heads, who were then expected to forward it to their professors. With faculty’s hectic schedules and cluttered inboxes, the message most likely didn’t receive proper attention, because our active-shooter plan was treated like a chain letter.
Administrators should make certain that faculty truly understand their roles in an active-shooter scenario. There must be an individual, or system, that ensures everyone assigned a crucial role by the plan is fully familiar with it – now. Ultimately, lives could be saved.