Dear member of the SMU community:
Because SMU is committed to providing a safe and secure environment, we have been taking actions to increase our ability to deal with an emergency on campus, if one should occur. Toward this end, SMU has significantly enhanced its Emergency Management Plan and will hold training sessions this spring for faculty, staff, and students. In the interim, however, it is important to know the following:
• SMU officials remain in touch daily with various government agencies, such as the FBI, that monitor homeland security, and SMU receives the latest information regarding levels of alert or possible threats.
• To help the campus community understand the level of alert determined by the Federal government, SMU monitors the Homeland Security Alert System. SMU has in place Standard Operating Procedures that respond with increased security as threat levels increase.
• Among these procedures, SMU Police have increased monitoring of the campus, including inspections of parked service vehicles and vans. Buildings and Grounds personnel are inspecting the campus more thoroughly and will report any suspicious items. Increased numbers of SMU police officers are staffing high-profile events attracting large numbers of people.
• All facilities on campus have been assigned building managers and assistant managers. Building managers, who number about 150 campuswide, will receive training March 28 to carry out their duties. All building occupants should know the identity of building managers for the facilities they use; after March 28, lists will be posted in all buildings.
• Building managers are responsible for informing and organizing building occupants to take appropriate action during an emergency, which could include taking shelter in place or evacuating for assembly elsewhere. SMU also would be prepared to provide shelter on campus for persons not usually in residence, such as commuting students. Emergency supplies would be available throughout campus.
• Building managers are familiar with floor plans and the location of emergency exits for their assigned facilities, as well as locations for taking shelter.
• In addition, everyone should know the primary and alternative ways to evacuate campus buildings and which areas have been designated as assembly points and areas for shelter in place. Soon signage in buildings will appear providing such information.
• SMU has a roster of all assigned classrooms for students and faculty, as well as the location of faculty and staff who occupy each building. In addition, there are rosters of all students living in residence halls and sorority and fraternity houses. All building managers will have the appropriate rosters of occupants for their assigned facilities.
• In case of emergency, an Alert Notification System would contact building managers and their assistants simultaneously by telephone. Web, e-mail, and voicemail also would be used, as well as the campus information line, SMU-INFO (4636). If electrical systems are out of service, notification would be by loud speakers positioned throughout campus. In addition, a siren would be sounded; training will be provided on what the various sounds mean.
• An emergency Web site, linked to the SMU homepage, would include pertinent information, as well as links to sites operated by the government and various agencies, such as www.ready.gov. SMU plans also include working with external media to provide up-to-date information to the public as well as procedures for keeping parents informed.
• A campus Emergency Operations Center has been established and equipped so that University administrators can coordinate campus operations in case of an emergency. These administrators, who comprise the Emergency Operations Group, would carry out assigned duties during an emergency.
• SMU's emergency plan also contains procedures for safeguarding records and computer systems. Everyone using a campus computer should back up work and store the back-up disc or records in a location separate from the primary work location.
Although receiving information dealing with possible acts of terrorism can be frightening in itself, the best precaution is to be alert and informed. Then we should proceed with our daily activities as usual, sustaining the regular rhythms of campus life.
Students and others who are feeling anxiety or have special concerns should know that the following resources are available:
Perkins Chapel is available Monday through Thursday 9-11 a.m.; Friday and Sunday, 1-4 p.m. The Quiet Place, a third-floor room in Hughes-Trigg Student Center for prayer and reflection, is open 7 a.m.-11 p.m. weekdays; 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.
We hope, of course, that none of the above procedures will be necessary. But proper preparation will always be the best course of action in helping to safeguard our campus.
R. Gerald Turner