Student Government releases action plan in event of campus tragedy

Kayla Meyertons

Student Government released a campus tragedy action plan on Twitter Thursday detailing ways the University plans to respond in the effect of campus tragedy.

SG collaborated with UT President Fenves, UTPD police Chief David Carter, Chief Communications Officer Gary Susswein, Provost Maurie McInnis and other administrators to create the plan, which consists of seven key action items.

These items include improving the text message alert policy, pursuing funds for a new dispatch system, integrating SG representatives into the University’s Joint Information Center, disseminating rumors quicker, informing parents sooner, and creating a resource sheet for faculty to know how to help students in crisis.

Student body president Alejandrina Guzman said the action plan demonstrates an open conversation between student representatives and administrators.

“Students have the right to know, (and) they deserve to know what’s going on,” Guzman, a Mexican-American studies and government senior, said. “…Whether that’s SG being proactive and setting up meetings or whether that’s administration being proactive in listening, it shows that we really are striving to better campus.”

Bird said bringing SG representatives into the Joint Information Center during crisis is a real change the University will be making to work together with students.

“Anytime a community goes through an event like that you’re going to try to look back and do anything and everything to try to do a better job the next time,” Bird said. “We monitor social media in a crisis, but the number of channels continue to grow, and (SG) is obviously more in touch with students than anyone else, (as) we saw in the group messaging channels.”

Group messaging apps like GroupMe were a source of rumors on the day of the May 1 stabbing when rumors spread about potential threats in the West Campus area via the app. The action plan includes a point for University Communications to work closely with law enforcement to better address rumors and misinformation.

“It is really important during a crisis to follow the official sources of information,” Bird said. “We have to look forward to tamp down rumors as they arise. That’s a joint project really between communications, police, and students, (and) that’s an area where we can all work together.”

Student body vice president Micky Wolf said the University response to the May 1 stabbing left room for improvement, so the action plan comprehensively takes into account University leadership from all sides of the issue.

“We hope this action plan and the changes that were working on implementing never have to be use, but at the same time, we need to be better in these situations going forward,” Wolf, Plan II and business honors senior, said. “…We need to be prepared to keep students safe.”

Wolf said the action plan took a few weeks to release because SG wanted to ensure that all entities from a University level were on board with the action plan.

“Going through the crisis it emphasizes how important it is for a community to work together,” Bird said. “This in a way has to do with working together as a community to heal divisions and to make sure that we stand together for the good of all and the safety of the community.”