APU students are dissatisfied with communication efforts and safety precautions after two critical incidents.
Three men shot, two dead, a threat of a shooting and a lockdown for hours — these are the circumstances the APU community faced over the last two weeks. APU students are now questioning the means in which communication efforts and safety precautions are being put into place.
A shooting on Sixth Street occurred on Jan. 9 only a few blocks away from campus where two men were shot, one fatally, and a juvenile male was killed. This was the first critical incident that occurred and the first time this year students raised major concern.
The second incident occurred on Jan. 15, only six days later. Citrus College, which sits between APU’s east and west campuses, went on lockdown after a suspect called the Glendora Police Department and said he was going to “shoot up” Citrus. Soon after, APU was put on lockdown because of its proximity to Citrus.
While these incidents did not happen directly on APU property, students were still affected. John Kang, a sophomore accounting major, said his roommates heard the gunshots that went off during the first incident and were frightened.
“A lot of my friends actually heard the shots from their dorm room, apartment or wherever they were,” Kang said. “It was pretty scary to say the least.”
Similar worries and concerns arose again on Jan. 15. Raymond Andrin, a sophomore nursing major, said he was anxious because he “saw sirens” and “a bunch of police cars passing by,” and that it was “hard to be calm” in such a situation.
Students believe these concerns arose because of the lack of communication from Department of Campus Safety (DCS) officers.
During both critical incidents, DCS sent out a series of texts, calls and emails to update students and faculty of on-going happenings. However, some students were concerned with these messages, including Brittney Nourian, a senior public relations major.
“I do wish the texts and the calls would have come a little sooner. I think with the delay there’s a lot of room for speculation and fear and that’s what frightens the student more,” Nourian said.
Paul Dennis, executive director of DCS, spoke in chapel on Jan. 16, to explain these delays were methodically thought out and were intended to not spark any unneeded fear.
“Just trust us,” Dennis said. “I’m going to share with you, bring to you, bring to this university, my many years of dealing with critical incidents, and I am not going to press the panic alarm on you unnesesaringly.”
Dennis even invited all students to join Everbridge, the mass notification system that alerted students via text message, email and voicemail, to ensure up-to-date communication.
“You’re going to get information through Instagram. You’re going to get it through Twitter. You’re going to get it from friends text messaging you. The one thing I really need you guys to promise me that you will do is pay attention to Everbridge,” Dennis said. “That is going to be the most accurate and timely information specifically to our community that we need to follow.”
However, even with these implementations, some students feel that further precautions should be put into place.
“I feel like they do most of the work when things have already happened, but that shouldn’t be the case. They should be working and being proactive and preventing certain things rather than just working on them when they come,” said Gillian Day, a sophomore nursing major.
Some ideas students have for future safety precautions include tightening security, having DCS officers placed inside and outside of campus, instructing professors on safety measures beforehand and opening spaces for prayer.
Vice Provost Mark Stanton and Willie Hamlett, associate Vice President of Student Life, visited a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Jan. 16, where students brought up their concerns about emergency safety procedures.
“The Critical Response Team…is always looking for ways they can do better, and make sure that they handle those incidents in the best possible way,”Stanton said.
Students stressed the importance of communication and future safety precautions because the Azusa community is their community. They want to believe and know they are safe. They understand not all situations are preventable and DCS has student safety at the forefront of everything they do. These students simply want further steps to be taken.
“I wish there was a lot more communication between administration, Campus Safety and the student body so that we feel reassured that we are safe, that we are being protected and that we are being looked after,” Nourian said.