- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota’s two public college systems say they have emergency plans in place for each campus and campus-wide alert systems to warn students, faculty and staff in the event of a shooting or other emergency.

The University of Minnesota system and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system say campus emergency plans are reviewed and communicated to faculty and students. But students who spoke with The Associated Press said they wouldn’t necessarily know what to do in a shooting situation.

The University of Minnesota system, which has five campuses statewide, has a texting alert system, an outdoor alert system, the ability to lock down buildings, and, in some buildings, the capability to talk to people through fire panels, said spokesman Steven Henneberry.

Police on the Twin Cities campus, the system’s largest with more than 32,000 undergraduate students, also conduct active shooter training for faculty, staff and student groups that request it, Henneberry said. In addition, the university did a full-scale active shooter exercise in 2013.

Matt Barnes, a 30-year-old civil engineering student at the university’s Twin Cities campus, said that as a transfer student this fall, he got a booklet during orientation that describes the school’s text alert system and public announcement capabilities. He said he’s received text messages before, and gets emails when a crime occurs.

“I think if something goes down and you are not in the building that it’s happening, I think they would do a good job of keeping you away from going there,” Barnes said, later adding, “Now, what they can do to prevent someone from coming in that’s got a grudge … I’m not really sure.”

He also said that while he feels safe on campus, he has “no idea” what he’s supposed to do if he’s in a building where something was happening.

In the MnSCU system, which has 54 campuses and more than 430,000 students statewide, emergency procedures are commonly posted in classrooms, distributed through email and included in student handbooks, said MnSCU spokesman Doug Anderson. Campuses are required to test emergency response plans each year, and campus-wide lockdown procedures that would generally apply to active shooter situations are often selected for those tests, he said.

He said recent updates include a new system-wide emergency alert system and remote locking systems.

Tom Hergert, president of the faculty association at St. Cloud State University, said faculty members receive emails about emergency policies. In the wake of the Oregon shooting, he said, there’s a push for more robust communications. At a recent Faculty Senate meeting, he said, members talked about bringing in a speaker from campus security.

“Do all 800 faculty know what to do in an active shooter situation? I seriously doubt it,” he said, adding that more should be done to keep faculty informed.

Annie Brecht, 20, a third-year student at Minnesota State University-Mankato, said she receives text messages and emails when something happens on campus.

“I don’t know the procedures of what I would do, but I know that’s how they would alert us,” said Brecht, who’s studying communication disorders.

“So far, what I think they are doing is enough,” she said. “I haven’t had a feeling of feeling unsafe.”

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Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/amyforliti


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