During the past few years while I have been serving as a Dean of Students, and in many of my other positions, I have thought about the impact of international crises on the campus safety of higher educational institutions and boarding schools. Events all over the world always seem to land on campus; There is always a student or a group of students who are directly affected by crises around the world.
Recently, there was a tragedy in Brussels, Paris, Egypt, Nice and, of course, many other places around the world. Our campuses are international in that we have students, staff, and faculty who are from all over. We have educational and cultural programs that send our community members to every corner of the globe.
When something terrible happens abroad, we have to pay attention. We may have students, faculty, staff, or families and friends in the impacted areas.
What are your campus plans and procedures for learning about and responding to these events? How do you take account for all of your community members? What about educational, academic, and administrative accountability? Who on your campus can “ring the bell” to get the campus management teams together regarding how some far-off incident may have affect on your community? Who should be able to? I suspect that your entry level staff, such as your hall directors, are more tuned into who is from (and who is connected to) different parts of the world.
How do you communicate with those in/from the affected areas? What wellness and health supports do they have there? What about on-campus supports?
There are risk management and liability concerns regarding doing this work well. The Hotchkiss Verdict (https://blogs.harvard.edu/nplblog/2015/08/26/a-schools-duty-of-care-to-its-students-munn-v-hotchkiss-school-goldberg-zipursky/) is a $42 million verdict, that while having some different context, is an example of the potential downside to mismanaged emergencies abroad.
There are some resources for us out there. One place to start is the NASPA Campus Safety and Violence Prevention resources page (available here – https://www.naspa.org/constituent-groups/kcs/campus-safety/resources).
I am passionate about campus safety and emergency management. Please contact me if you need any guidance and/or if you would like some formal consulting.