Following the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, public schools and universities across the country have become more skeptical of the safety precautions in place in the event of a campus shooting.
Providing a response to the recent influx of mass shootings in the United States, Northern has dedicated nearly two years to putting the finishing touches on an automatic locking system on campus.
The system is capable of locking all exterior doors on campus from a central computer in the case of a shooter or other harm on campus.
In cases that require the lockdown system, students and staff would be notified via NMU’s Emergency Text Alert System, as well as an alert message appearing on every NMU—issued computer and laptop, regardless of the location.
“The benefit of this system is the sheer speed to which a campus-wide lockdown would be possible, especially for those buildings such as Jamrich, the Science Complex and the LRC that have high volumes of traffic throughout the day and evening,” said Cindy Paavola, director of communications and marketing. “People may not realize just how many doors each of our large academic facilities have, but it’s a lot.”
Along with updated technology, NMU faculty has been constantly revising emergency plans for the campus as a whole, as well as to many individual departments and units within the university, according to Paavola.
“In addition to new technology being put in place, campus staff is routinely trained on what to do in the case of an emergency situation,” said Mike Bath, director at Public Safety and Police Services. “Public Safety holds training courses for staff to work with local police and fire teams to better prepare for any emergency situation on campus.”
Paavola also emphasized the importance of student and faculty awareness, so they can be prepared in the event of an emergency.
“We strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to also play a role in preparing for emergencies on crisis,” Bath said. “By that, I mean that anyone on the NMU campus who has cell phone texting capabilities needs to have signed up for the emergency text alerts—it’s free of any NMU charge and it is by far the fastest way for university officials to communicate emergency situations.”
In the event of a shooter or other emergency, many students are unaware of the measures Northern is taking to secure their safety, but also of what they need to do should an emergency happen.
Junior painting major Kelly Peters said if she were to ever experience an emergency on campus, she isn’t sure what measures would need to be taken by her and her peers.
“I’m not sure what I would do,” Peters said. “I guess it’s not something that is ever really talked about. Maybe if the university made it something that you have to learn in one of your classes, just 20 minutes once a year or so where every student has to participate in a safety lockdown walk through of what exactly to do.”
Another thing to to do as a student or faculty member to be prepared for an on or off campus emergency is program the NMU Public Safety and Police Services administrative line (227-2151) into their cell phone for emergency use, according to Public Safety.
Bath also urges students to call in any suspicious behavior that is noticed on campus as soon as possible.
To be added to the emergency text alert program, go to myweb.nmu.edu/alerts.