Students and faculty don’t always know what to do in an emergency situation on campus, but there is a plan in place.
Public Safety’s response will depend on the situation of the emergency. In the case of a shooting or another related situation, Public Safety would respond immediately and make further notifications from there.
“The first step would be to activate NMU’s alert system,” Public Safety officials said. “The second step would be to notify the emergency response team.”
The emergency response team at NMU is made up of top university officials around campus and would handle situations with the media if necessary.
According to Public Safety officials, typically the director of Public Safety and the response team would be in charge with the initial response to an emergency. Through the Northern alert system, students and faculty will be told how to react to the situation.
Recently, Virginia Tech lost a lawsuit for not responding appropriately to a shooting that occurred on April 16, 2007. This situation has caused many students and faculty across the nation to worry about how their campus would handle an emergency situation like the one at Virginia.
The shooter killed two people early morning and then killed another 30 later in the afternoon. Families sued the university for not properly warning the campus community about the shootings that occurred at a campus dorm. The suit claimed an alert could have saved lives.
The families were awarded $4 million each, but damages must be capped at $100,000 according to the Virginia Tort Claims Act.
Virginia Tech was fined $55,000 in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education for not responding appropriately to the shootings or giving the university community proper warnings.
NMU and other schools around Marquette were closed Feb. 2, 2011, when university authorities were alerted that a blog said the author would shoot students on campus and kill more than the Virginia Tech shootings.
The university responded by evacuating campus early in the morning and closing the remainder of campus. Resident halls were on lockdown and students told not to leave while police officials investigated the situation.
Students, faculty and staff were notified by emergency alert text message, email and postings on all of NMU’s main websites.
“In any emergency situation, NMU will use all of its various communication tools, and there are several, but the fastest way to receive directions on what to or not to do, will be through the text alerts,” said Cindy Paavola, director of communications and marketing.
Public Safety kept students and staff informed by letting them know the situation was under control at noon. Buildings remained on lockdown and students were asked not to leave the dorms unless to go to the dining halls.
Police agencies involved identified that the threat was not made on campus and that a similar threat was made to other universities.