Dear St. Thomas community,
I’m writing on behalf of Public Safety Director Dan Meuwissen and myself, as co-chairs of the University Action and Response Team (UART).
As many of you know, our campus community was shaken last week when the university switchboard received a bomb threat directed at the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts (JRC) on our St. Paul campus. Although the threat thankfully did not materialize, it was nonetheless disturbing, considering it was the second time this year we’ve received such a scare.
Please know that I – along with all university leaders – share your deep concerns about these incidents. When a bomb threat occurs, the university works together with federal law enforcement partners, Saint Paul Police Department and other appropriate parties to investigate. While we are limited as to what we can share about law enforcement investigations, we want you to know that we have a strong relationship with law enforcement and take appropriate follow-up actions in concert with them.
This is an appropriate time to remind the campus of local safety procedures and resources, as well as communications practices.
- Staff and faculty are encouraged to sign up for text and phone alerts via Murphy Online; students are already signed up but should take time to verify. A link to Murphy Online is found on the homepage of the OneStThomas intranet; students, faculty and staff may log in to update their emergency notification preferences. Within Murphy Online, visit the Personal Information/Special Roles tab. In addition to phone and text messages sent this past Tuesday, email messages also were sent to campus residents affirming that the threat did not involve any residence halls.
- We will continue to train our campus community on the university response protocol that includes Run, Hide and Fight. The university has created an active shooter awareness video for students, faculty and staff. Please take 10 minutes to review this video in an online canvas module. Additionally, we strongly encourage each student and community member to create a personal safety plan to follow in case of emergencies, and we communicate safety procedures regularly. Here is a link that you and your student(s) might find helpful: stthomas.edu/are-you-prepared-campus-safety-procedures/.
- We follow up incidents such as this with email messages and postings in the online St. Thomas Newsroom. These are available to students, parents and the community at large on the university website. Last week’s threat was covered here: stthomas.edu/statement-on-aug-20-bomb-threat-to-john-roach-center/. The threat last April was covered here: news.stthomas.edu/update-on-st-paul-campus-bomb-threat/.
In addition to working with law enforcement agencies, St. Thomas has an internal University Action and Response Team. This group is composed of university administrators representing key departments of the university including: Office of the Provost, Academic Affairs, Office of General Counsel, Student Affairs, Public Safety, Facilities Management, Innovation & Technology Services and other departments as needed. UART oversees the mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery from major crises and the administrative coordination of crisis situations that may impact a major unit of the university or the university as a whole. Examples include: fire in a campus building, unexpected death of a community member, property destruction from a weather event, a community threat such as a bomb threat, or a significant cybersecurity threat.
Lastly, please know that we take the safety of our community very seriously, and we ask every member of our community to be aware and actively engaged in keeping our campus safe. We also want you to feel free to communicate any concerns you may have. For example, our Dean of Students Office, Public Safety and Counseling and Psychological Services last week conducted a session for students to respond to their concerns regarding last week’s incident. If you did not have the opportunity to attend this session, please do not hesitate to contact my office (email: email@example.com, phone: (651) 962-6120) directly with any questions.
Thank you for your support.
Dr. Karen Lange
Vice President for Student Affairs