Throughout the past couple of weeks, all Colgate students were informed by a bright orange card in their mailbox that they are required to attend one of the many “Emergency Preparedness training seminars” being held throughout the month of October. Starting this week, these hour-long sessions will inform students how to handle an emergency situation should one arise on campus. These seminars are just one of the many projects that are part of the Crisis Management Team’s (CMT) new safety initiative, the Emergency Response Plan. The CMT is comprised of senior leaders from Information Technology, Buildings and Grounds, the President’s Office, Campus Safety, Communications and Financial Services, as well as the Dean of Faculty and the Dean of the College. Since early 2008, the CMT has been meeting to discuss the Emergency Response Plan which is being put into action this semester. Associate Vice President of the College and Dean of Students Scott Brown has put a great deal of work into this effort as a member of the CMT and is enthusiastic about its benefits.
“I think it is excellent — Colgate is a very special community and a big part of that is how we look out for each other,” he said. “Considering safety should be a priority for any campus, the more mindful and educated a community is the better.”
Two other major initiatives of the Emergency Response Plan aside from the training seminars are the use of Safety Guides and an Emergency Broadcasting System. Safety Guides are volunteers stationed in each academic building who are trained to shepherd occupants to safety in the case of an emergency. Any able faculty or staff member is encouraged to volunteer to be a guide; the only requirement is a four-hour training session. Campus Safety Officer Deb Dubois is the major force behind this effort, and so far an encouraging number of at least 60 guides have been trained. Head of Campus Safety Chief Dick Matte added that the CMT is currently working with ResLife to train Residential Advisors and student volunteers as guides as well so that residential buildings can be similarly equipped for an emergency. A tabbed, emergency quick reference guide will also be handed out to each Colgate student in the near future.
“This is to ensure that students know how to respond in an emergency and help them to feel more comfortable about it,” Matte said.
Along with safety guides and reference books, an Emergency Broadcasting System has been initiated. An integral piece of this project is e2campus, an emergency notification system that enables students, faculty and staff to receive emergency alerts via cell phones, pagers, the Colgate Portal and the Internet. Unfortunately, few have actually signed up for e2campus, but Brown strongly encourages students to participate. In the future, an outdoor loudspeaker system will also be set up around campus that will broadcast emergency situations.
According to Matte, nothing in particular brought about the Emergency Response Plan, but the Virginia Tech shooting last year and the incident with Juicy Campus here at Colgate last spring were certainly both wake-up calls.
“Hamilton is a pretty safe location by itself, but you can never be too careful,” he said. “Once all of these systems are in place, I can’t imagine a safer campus than the one we’ll have here at Colgate…We will be a model school for safety within a year. I’ve already had other schools calling us and asking what we’re doing.”
Matte was also impressed with the cooperation of the Colgate community, particularly the CMT, in orchestrating the Emergency Response Plan.
“Colgate is definitely unique. Out of all the schools I’ve previously worked at, I’ve never seen such commitment and investment in the safety of its students…I couldn’t be happier with what’s happening,” Matte said.
Brown shares this enthusiasm.
“We are very fortunate to live in a community like ours, so thanks to all who are helping to keep Colgate an even safer campus,” he said.