From the President: Follow-up to March 5 Lock Down

From the President: Follow-up to March 5 Lock Down

An update from President Casamento on the March 5 lock down.

March 6, 2018
10:49 a.m.

To Members of the Utica College Community:
 
I want to express my profound gratitude to faculty, staff, and students for responding to yesterday’s lockdown with professionalism, patience, and genuine caring for one another. I know that emotions ran the gamut, and that many of us awoke this morning with those same emotions lingering. Despite the unease that many of us are still feeling, I am greatly comforted by the knowledge that we have an emergency response plan in place, and that yesterday, it was well executed.
 
We also owe a debt of gratitude to law enforcement personnel. At the height of the situation, there were more than 100 officers on the Burrstone campus, including representatives from the Utica Police Department, the New York State Police, the FBI, and Homeland Security. There was a police presence throughout Monday evening, and members of the College community can expect that presence to continue at least through the end of today.
 
To recap yesterday’s events, at approximately 11 a.m. Utica College received via telephone what was determined to be a credible threat. The Office of Campus Safety immediately notified law enforcement, and I activated the College’s emergency response team. There were no shots fired, there were no injuries, and there was no evidence of a shooter on campus. Members of the College community received updates via texts, emails, and postings to social media and the College’s website, throughout the day.
 
I know that many are concerned about continuing safety. While the ongoing investigation means that there are some details that we cannot discuss, in an effort to deter future threats, the officers as well as crisis professionals who have experienced these types of incidents encouraged us to resume normal operations to the greatest extent possible. We considered every perspective before making any decisions.
 
It was with that advice in mind that we made the decision to hold classes today, knowing that many students, as well as many faculty members, may be reluctant to resume a normal schedule. This morning, Provost Johnsen sent an email to faculty members with a copy to students, and what he wrote is worth repeating here:
 

“Yesterday the College was the victim of a terroristic threat, and responded in a disciplined, coordinated fashion. The good news, of course, is that there were no shots fired and no injuries. That fact, however, does not minimize the traumatic effect -- on students, faculty, and staff -- of the day's events.
 
“Mindful of this, please be aware that many of your students will not feel able to return to class today, and those who do may find it difficult to focus.  I ask, therefore, that (1) you postpone or avoid any exams, quizzes, or other graded activities scheduled for today; (2) if you feel comfortable doing so, devote some part of the scheduled time to allow students to discuss yesterday's events and their reactions; and (3) that you reach out to individual students who show evidence of emotional difficulties.  Please help connect them with members of the counseling staff.
 
“It is not lost on me that yesterday was also traumatic for you. Please be aware that the HR office has secured the services of people from the employee assistance program who can be available for conversations to help you process these events.”
 
I cannot stress enough the importance of talking with others about what happened yesterday, so that healing can begin. I encourage students who need assistance to take advantage of Counseling Center services; counselors will be available all day today in Room 105C in the Strebel Student Center. Employees may call EAP for assistance.
 
I also want to stress how much I value the feedback and suggestions that I’ve received thus far. After every emergency, it is standard operating procedure to critique our response, which we plan to do in the next day or two. We will look very closely at our emergency management plan, and I expect that we will find areas where we need to make improvements.
 
I am in constant communication with federal, state, and local law enforcement, but I also plan to spend today meeting with as many students, faculty, and staff as possible. The safety of our community is our highest priority, and I want to thank all members of the College community for your support as we continue our work over the days and weeks to come.
 
 
Laura M. Casamento, Ed.D.
President
Utica College
1600 Burrstone Road
Utica, New York 13502
315-792-3222: Office
315-792-3360: Fax
Executive Assistant: Jackie Lynch

(315) 792-3006
1600 Burrstone Road | Utica, NY 13502