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UO Safety Policies or Run, Bitch, Run!!!

My letter to the Emerald published Wednesday questions the safety of students in the event of a suicidal shooter on campus, and primarily questions the ability of the police or University to keep us safe. A nice person sent me a memo outlining the administration’s concerns about student safety due to the VTech shooting – apparently to quell criticisms. Unfortuneatly, the letter illustrates my point, and lets see how it compares to the strategy VTech used.


The UO has several communication systems to notify members of the university community of emergencies. Each building has a full‐time staff member who is designated as the building manager. We use telephone and e‐mail to communicate with the building managers, who coordinate information flow with students, faculty and staff. In addition, the staff members administering the university Web site are prepared to post updates to unfolding emergencies. The university can also activate a recorded message, allowing community members to call in and listen to updates and safety instructions.

VTech also has these “communication systems” i.e. phones, e-mail, and a website. Someone must be there to utilize them though, and the VT administration sent a wide e-mail about an hour-and-a-half after the first two victims were killed – right before the second slaughter.


In addition, many in leadership positions of the university have completed crisis management and communication training designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In our effort to be prepared for any eventuality, we periodically train for a variety of scenarios

What?!? You’re actually admitting you were trained by FEMA? One of the largest cities in the US was destroyed and FEMA did practically nothing about it – hrm…which is probably what would happen if there was an emergency on campus.


We have consulted student, faculty and administration leaders on campus and will continue to work to enhance the safety while still recognizing the sad truth that sometimes there is no way to prevent dangers of the larger world from intruding on campus.

The last sentence is an honest admission that the University cannot protect you from everything while on campus, which is a nice change from the “we’re the only ones who can protect you” stance typically taken. Sometimes there isn’t a way to prevent every danger, but there are good ways of deterring it and reducing the risk. With this in mind, students should be encouraged to be proactive about their safety, including allowing students to carry concealed weapons.


If you should see anyone who is behaving in a manner that you think might be threatening, or anything that you think might pose a danger, please immediately notify the Department of Public Safety at 346‐6666.

This is wrong – if you see anything that might be a danger, protect your self first, then call 911 when you safely can. If you are being attacked, or shot at, defend your life first at all costs!

In this memo, the University gives potentially life-threatening advice, and shares none of the policies that actually would be enacted in the case of an emergency – such as will DPS officers risk their lives to save students? I think we all know the answer.

  1. Melissa says:

    That was a low shot at FEMA. It isn’t appropriate to blame to collective agency where there is a distinct divide between bureaucracy and response teams. I know people who were there with FEMA, and they worked constantly every day for months (some are still working). The public expects a miracle 24 hour fix, when in reality the practical time line of addressing a disaster of that magnitude is on a scale of months and is held up by local failures to prepare and cooperate. Give FEMA teams a break.

    Additionally, FEMA bureaucracy and FEMA training are two different things. Consider that you’re discussing a massive hurricane in an unprepared city and the potential for a school shooting in the same category. The FEMA response level isn’t remotely comparable. A shooting wouldn’t activate a DMORT or DMAT team. It would likely be handled by trained campus staff, local law enforcement and medical examiner teams. I would rather that someone on campus have FEMA training, rather than no (or DPS) training.

    I suggest you research all viewpoints, including those of FEMA staff units who were on the ground, instead of jumping on the pro/anti FEMA bandwagon. Moral approaches claiming inherently “good” and “bad” government agencies are always subjective and rarely informed. Separate the response teams from the Brownie and Bush games before you lash out.

  2. Amy says:

    To be fair, the reason one shouldn’t call 911 from a University phone is because the call is routed through Oregon Hall and that’s where EPD would show up. DPS, being on campus itself, should (in theory) be able to respond quicker. However, if you were calling from a cell phone, this wouldn’t really be a problem. Does EPD even know where buildings are on campus? I really hope so.

    It makes sense to alert students to the dangers of poor security on campus, though.

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