U-M mourns, leaders offer resources in the wake of Virginia tragedy
Members of all three U-M campuses expressed sympathy and support for the victims of the Virginia Polytechnic University massacre in various ways this past week, and will continue to do so in the days ahead. Additionally, Student Affairs, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and other campus units reached out with resources and information to help members of the U-M community touched by the incident that took 33 lives in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
"A tragedy of this scope and scale is almost unthinkable, and we are just beginning to fully grasp the impact of what has occurred," President Mary Sue Coleman wrote in a letter to campus. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by these terrible circumstances.
"Whether or not you are directly touched by these events, they bring great sorrow and stress to our own campus at a time when students are already adjusting to the increased pressures of exams.
Many in our University may be feeling vulnerable as more information comes out about the shootings and the events that led up to the tragedy. It is important that we share a sense of community and offer one another the maximum amount of support and tolerance." See the president's letter at: www.umich.edu/pres/speeches/070416vtech.html.
Candlelight vigils were held on all three campuses shortly after the April 16 shooting, and another was scheduled in Ann Arbor April 20. Throughout this week, leaders of the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA) encourage members of the community to sign condolence cards and wear maroon and orange ribbons in remembrance of the students and faculty killed and injured. The cards and ribbons will be available at all Campus Information Centers in the Michigan Union, Pierpont Commons and Michigan League through April 27, when leaders will mail them to VT.
"We also want to open up discussion on what happened Monday at Virginia Tech. Students, faculty and staff on our campus, as on campuses across the country, are responding to the tragic shootings that took the lives of so many students and faculty, Vice President E. Royster Harper and MSA President Zack Yost wrote in an e-mail to students. They encouraged organizations and individuals with questions or ideas to contact the Dean of Students' Office, email@example.com or 764-7420.
Harper and Yost also reminded students that Counseling and Psychological Services (764-8312) staff members are available to meet with groups and individuals.
"Also, some outreach to parents of current and admitted students is under discussion to mitigate concerns about student safety on campus," they wrote.
Updates on student-organized events can be found on the Student Matters Web site: uuis.umich.edu/student_matters/index.cfm.
Coleman also reminded U-M employees that the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP) is a resource available to assist with their needs, 936-8660.
Since the Virginia Tech shootings, many on campus have asked about safety procedures at U-M.
Hank Baier, associate vice president for facilities and operations, says each emergency is different but that DPS officers are trained to handle a variety of scenarios.
"Specifically, our campus police officers have been specially trained to address active shooter situations," Baier says. "They have been issued special equipment and regularly conduct refresher training. They also conduct training with other local law enforcement agencies and have mutual aid agreements in place with local and federal agencies to access additional personnel if necessary.
"We are a large public institution that is geographically spread out and highly integrated into the nearby community. While it is virtually impossible to 'shut down' the entire campus, we are prepared to isolate and restrict areas of campus as necessary," he says.
Guidance for how to respond in an emergency can be found in two resources: the campus safety handbook ( www.umich.edu/~safety/) and campus emergency procedures flip chart ( www.umich.edu/~urel/prepare/index.html).
Among other tips, everyone immediately should report suspicious behavior to the appropriate authorities, Baier says. He also reminds students and those who work in secure areas to be observant for people who may try to tailgate behind them into a secured area.
Other safety tips:
• Don't ignore the systems that are in placefire alarms, automatic door locks, outdoor emergency sirens, broadcast messages, etc.;
• Keep directory listings updated with current cell phone numbers and contact information, as well as emergency contacts.
In the case of civil disturbances, the emergency guide recommends members of the community:
• Call DPS at 9-1-1;
• Secure areas (lock doors, safes, files, vital records and expensive equipment);
• Avoid area of disturbance;
• Continue with normal routines as much as possible; and
• Stay away from doors or windows if the disturbance is outside and stay inside.
More of Baier's statement about safety can be found at www.umich.edu/news/index.html?BG/baier_letter07.