March 6, 2018
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.”