Every Drew student and administrator, as well as many parents and alumni, already knows what happened last weekend. We are recounting it here not because people have not heard about it, but because the failures that followed are too egregious to ignore.
Last Saturday night, following a fight that broke out at the Club Drew Pre-Spring Break Luau Party, a rumor spread around campus that gunshots had been fired and that a gunman was on campus. Many students who heard the rumor at the time it was being spread were understandably panicked. Students who were not in tune with what was occurring at that time — those who had not heard the rumor — however, would not learn that anything had happened, that their safety was compromised — even if the threat wasn’t real — until several hours later. This was after a police search had taken place and a lockdown was initiated and then lifted.
By the time an emergency campus wide text and email had been sent, the lock down had already been lifted. We are thankful that in this particular case the rumor turned out to be a false alarm.
The Drew community later learned, from the Dean of Campus Life and Student Affairs Sara Waldron’s email the next day, exactly what happened. Chief Communications Officer Dave Muha is the only person on campus who has access to the emergency alert system. He was initially unavailable the night of the shooting rumor, and therefore the university was unable to send out an emergency message.
In the email, Waldron promised that the university is working on changing this oversight. It should not take a rumor of a gunman at Drew to have a functioning and foolproof emergency alert system. It is hard to imagine why an administrator, and not Director of Public Safety Rob Lucid or another Public Safety official, would have control of the alert system.
We are glad to hear that this is now being resolved, but if for some reason the threat had actually been real, we wouldn’t be so lucky as to simply change the policy.