Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Prepare for the Unthinkable

So I was catching up on news and one item caught my eye. I read this past Sunday that the FBI’s Philadelphia field office was warning colleges and universities in the city to be vigilant in light of the attack at the Oregon college last week. Apparently, monitoring of social media revealed a possible threat to higher education institutions in the city. Today Community College of Philadelphia was put on lock down as police searched for a possible gunman on campus. No suspects were found and no injuries were reported. This is especially troubling as urban environments provide much more cover for armed attackers to escape. The campus lock down in Philadelphia appears by all reports to have gone well.
That had me thinking, what would happen at CSU if there were a need to lock down the campus while an investigation or sweep were conducted? I am sure that law enforcement would manage well enough but what about the few thousand students, staff and faculty on campus who have never received any training or participated in any exercises to test the readiness for such an event. 
I have taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. I have quite a bit of training in this area and I am concerned at the lack of readiness on the part of the campus given the number of active shooter incidents in the past ten years at colleges and universities across the country. And it isn’t as if this campus is in the midst of a joyous renaissance. Morale is virtually non-existent and discontent is probably the highest I have witnessed in 24 years. These factors coupled with an administration that is clearly out of its depth provide the conditions for the perfect storm of mishandling a crisis of the kind witnessed in Oregon last week. I personally have spoken for years to the Board of Trustees meetings about the university’s lack of preparedness and have been ignored even though I possess the knowledge, skills and experience to speak authoritatively on the matter.  University administrators may imitate ostriches as much as they want but burying their heads in the sand does not prevent incidents or prepare institutions for these all too common occurrences.
As a vested member of this university, I am thankful for every day that passes without incident as we move closer to the end of the current regime. It is my fervent hope that a calamitous misfortune is not delivered to this campus. The university doesn’t deserve it and is clearly not prepared for it.

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