By: Tiara James
On August 8, LIU was all set to hold a major groundbreaking ceremony for its multimillion-dollar project – including the construction of a 34-story building and a parking garage – that is currently in the works on the site of its athletic field. But the campus was suddenly closed for the day after the FBI alerted LIU that a “non-specific threat” had was made to the Brooklyn Campus on social media.
That morning, LIU posted a statement that noted, in part, that the FBI “[does] not deem [the threat] credible. However, the University has chosen to act with an abundance of caution in light of recent tragedies in Texas and Ohio.” (Earlier that month, two mass shootings in both states killed 31 people and wounded more than 50).
The incidents once again highlighted the issue of mass shootings and crisis preparedness in schools. At LIU’s Brooklyn Campus, there are many visible security measures in place. Those include the posting of public safety officers at most major entry points on campus. There, they monitor and enforce the rule of students and professors scanning in their school I.D. cards to enter buildings. These officers are also on patrol in the hallways and other areas of the university.
The Emergency Alert System
On its website, the university has posted details about its Emergency Alert System, which is sent out to students, faculty and staff members who sign up for the notifications.
It was on Sept. 26, at approximately 12:59 p.m., when a notification was sent out – via text message – informing students and faculty that an incident had occurred in which shots had been fired in the vicinity. (According to reports, a single gunshot had been fired at the MetroTech Center and the suspects were seen fleeing towards the direction of the Flatbush Ave. Extension; police have reportedly made one arrest in the case).
In addition to the LIU Emergency Alert System, there is also a Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT). According to LIU’s recently-issued public safety report, the team is responsible for providing training and education in emergency response. The program is designed by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) and is taught by local emergency management experts. C-CERT’s goal, the report adds, is to train individuals to offer assistance in a time of need. But this program is not mandatory nor is its activity known by most on campus.
In Case of An Emergency? Questions Linger
As a whole, there is much about campus emergency preparedness at the Brooklyn Campus that remains unknown. When contacted by Seawanhaka, the supervisor of Public Safety on the LIU Brooklyn campus, Craig Abruzzo declined to comment on the subject of public safety.
Even with these safety measures in place, some students argue that the procedures should be more transparent and shared with the student body.
“In an emergency I would probably panic,” said pre- pharmacy major, Sara Mohamed, 19. “If I felt like my life was at risk or something, I would [just] follow my own procedure. I would not follow directions because I don’t see that there’s a set procedure being taught or that [one] is even up on a poster or anything. So how are we supposed to know what to do?”
When asked what he would do in the event of an emergency, a security guard who requested anonymity said: “I would call 911 and then call my supervisor. For an event like that, you can’t be prepared. We are not armed guards.”
The University’s Director of Public Safety Michael Fevola, who based at the LIU Post campus, did not respond to requests for comment. In fact, Seawanhaka placed multiple phone calls to LIU’s public safety office, but was told at one point – by an officer who answered – that the office is not authorized to tell students about what to do in case of an emergency.
Nevertheless, the university encourages all students and personnel enroll under its Emergency Alert System to make that their cell phone numbers are registered to receive emergency alerts. For those who can’t register this way, LIU adds that the most effective way to stay up to date on emergencies is by constantly checking the MyLIU web portal or website.
For more information on emergency procedures on the LIU Brooklyn campus, visit http://www.liu.edu/Brooklyn/ Public-safety.