WMU President, faculty, staff hold campus-wide open forum to discuss concerns over university’s public alert system

KALAMAZOO (WLNS) – Two days after the tragic shootings that left six people dead in Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University President, John Dunn, and school officials held a campus wide forum to address concerns from the community, as to why members of the university weren’t issued a campus alert about the shooter on Saturday.

Many students said the major concern, was the lack of information provided to them on Saturday night, with shootings taking place just a couple of miles away from campus.

They questioned the failure of Western Michigan University to issue a campus alert.

Under the university’s alert system, in compliance with the Clery Act, requires all colleges and universities, under federal law, to keep and disclose information about crime happening on campus when there’s an imminent threat to the people on it.

Many officials Monday night explained how the timeline of events backs up why the campus community wasn’t notified, and how they plan to change that in the future.

“We did not adequately meet your need for information,” Western Michigan University President, John Dunn said.

The tragic mass shootings on Saturday have left many in Kalamazoo uneasy about the protocol in place that notifies the Western Michigan University campus community when there’s a serious threat.

WMU faculty and staff addressed a packed room of students and residents to answer questions about why things played out the way they did.

“As a student myself, I think our main concern is just being aware of what’s going on around our community, because not only do you have students that stay on campus but you also have students that stay off of campus,” one student said.

Almost every time a question was asked, or a statement was made, a university official would respond.

Scott Merlo, Chief of Police/Director of Public Safety for WMU, responded to the concerns surrounding response.

“We didn’t have any specific information that it wasn’t occurring on campus. I understand that you’re off campus, I understand that; and that is, as we’ve talked about it, it’s certainly a failure that we need to find a better way to communicate that to you,” Merlo said.

A lot of hands were raised, a lot of voices were heard, and a lot of questions were answered.

“Sometimes these decisions are hard, they’re hard,” Merlo said. “But based on the information that we have and that’s what we do, we base our decisions on the facts that were presented to us at that time. The facts were that this incident, as tragic as it was, it didn’t happen on campus.”

One man weighed in on this personal experience with Saturday night.

“I drove past that Sealy before it happened, so I could’ve been a victim and I think a lot of us, our campus I think is bigger than just the geographical boundaries because there are so many students that live outside of campus.”

Another woman stood up and spoke out about her concerns.

“If I had just received a message saying “active shooter,” go inside, close your doors, lock your windows; stay safe, I would’ve stayed in all day.”

Moving forward, faculty, students, and staff at Western Michigan University will work together to improve the campus alert systems and come up with ways to prevent any miscommunication in the future.

We welcome thoughts and comments from our viewers. We ask that everyone keep their remarks civil and respectful. Postings that contain profanity, racist, or potentially libelous remarks will be deleted. We will delete any commercial postings, as well.

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