Terror level concerns campus

Memos on campus safety started circulating through campus when the national terror level was raised again to the “orange,” or high terror threat level.

But more than a week after the terror alert was raised, FAMU students still don’t know what to do in case of an emergency.

“Nobody told me anything,” said Tova Hairston, 19, a freshman from New Bern, N.C.

Hairston said she doesn’t know what she is supposed to do in case of an emergency or who she would contact to see if classes are cancelled.”I just wouldn’t go,” she said.

Calvin Ross, chief of police of the FAMU Police Department, recently sent a memo addressed to FAMU administration, faculty, staff and students concerning the national threat level.

“The police department will continue to make available to you, the FAMU community, any information of importance toward securing your safety,” the release said.

“E-mails, bulletins, flyers and announcements will be forthcoming to keep you updated.”

The high threat condition, which has been in effect since March 17, is one of the highest national threat levels, second only to “severe.”

According to an advisory from the Department of Homeland Security, “the assignment of a threat condition shall prompt the implementation of an appropriate set of protective measures.

Protective measures are the specific steps an organization shall take to reduce its vulnerability or increase its ability to respond during a period of heightened alert.”

FAMU’s assistant chief of police Michael Wallace said there are a variety of ways in which students are notified of such information.

“We can use the web page, we’ve done leaflets … because students are so mobile we have to use a variety of sources,” Wallace said.

Wallace said the department has distributed leaflets with threat alert information, and that posting the same information on the university’s website, www.famu.edu, would be the best way to efficiently inform the FAMU community.

“The website is definitely a good source,” said Dhyana Ziegler, acting vice president of research, planning and analysis, which is in charge of the website.

“We have not received that information, but we have no problems posting it on the website,” Ziegler said. “We would put anything online, especially at this level, to alert faculty and students to be safe.”

Wallace said the FAMU Police Department is working with the public affairs office to make sure information is relayed efficiently.

“The plan is that we put the information together, and the office of public affairs is responsible for disseminating that information out,” Wallace said.

A university relations official said important information is often relayed through the university’s e-mail system.

Debrechea Hopkins, 20, a sophomore criminal justice student from Cocoa, said e-mailing students about such important information is inefficient because not enough students use their e-mail accounts.

“Nobody knows about FAMU e-mail,” Hopkins said.

Wallace said students should be sure to stay informed about any important information that may be distributed throughout campus, and to contact public affairs if an emergency situation arises for further instructions.

“They (public affairs) serve as the focal point,” Wallace said. “We have an emergency operation center that deals with university emergencies. Public affairs is on that staff.”

Hairston said she doesn’t know what the procedure is if there is an emergency on campus, or what department she should turn to. “The only thing I know to do is pray,” she said.

Tanya Caldwell can be reached at Tanya_Caldwell@yahoo.com.