Summary of EMUs Crisis Response and Safety Plans

Eastern Mennonite University has been updating its crisis response and safety plans for the past year in preparation for a possible pandemic flu outbreak or other crisis. The Crisis Management Preparedness Team (CMPT) appointed by President Loren Swartzendruber has identified 14 categories of crises that may affect college campuses, yet none is more feared than those that include high mortality rates. In light of the tragic loss of life that recently occurred on Monday April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech, the CMPT and Presidents Cabinet have been reviewing relevant aspects of those plans.

We recognize that no one can fully prevent all crises, nor would we want to be so heavily guarded that the civil liberties characteristic of university campuses would be lost. As a Christian university in the Anabaptist peace tradition, we acknowledge that we rely first of all on Gods protection. In keeping with our nonresistance beliefs, we do not allow guns or weapons on our campus, a prohibition that we believe makes our campus safer.

EMU has cooperative relationships with law enforcement personnel at the Harrisonburg City Police Department who may be called on to assist in assessing and responding to a crisis situation while controlling access to campus. If needed, local rescue squads and fire departments may be contacted via our emergency 911 systems.

We have a signed Mutual Aid agreement set up to deliver emergency services on our campus, including providing our gymnasium facilities in the University Commons as a location for the community to receive immunizations and treatment by the Public Health Department (PHD) in the case of an outbreak of infectious disease. Our health and counseling services personnel would also assist PHD officials in physical and psychological treatment efforts on campus.

We believe that our small size (approx. 1,400 undergrad, seminary, and graduate students) allows us to quickly respond to a crisis. In the event that a crisis occurs, we have agreed that we would do the following:

  • Send text message alerts to those who have signed up for this service through the e2campus plan
  • Post a critical information alert on myEMU)
  • Send an e-mail to everyone on campus pointing them to our website for updates
  • Deliver a LAN (local area network) alert system message to every powered computer connected to the EMU network
  • Publish a web page of parent-specific emergency information and utilize a parents listserv for quick e-mail notification
  • Have residence life staff meet with and account for their students on campus
  • Notify local radio and TV stations via a news release

We are also reviewing rapid direct communication options through a radio signal warning speaker system and bell/alarm.

To increase on-campus security, we limit access to classroom and administrative buildings outside normal class times and residence halls utilize ID-card access systems. We are also considering rapid direct communication options through a radio signal warning speaker system and bell/alarm.

In these ways, we expect to continue to provide a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff. We are committed to continuous quality improvement of our existing safety plans as new strategies become available that are consistent with our vision, mission, and values.

—Dr. Ken L. Nafziger, vice president for student life, chair of the CMPT