October 6 started off as a normal day for most students at MUN’sSt. John’s Campus, but ended up being a very stress-inducing and scary day for many people in or near the area.
Around 7:50am, RNC Officers from Patrol Services, along with MUN Campus Enforcement and Patrol, responded to a report of a suspicious male carrying a firearm in the area of the Student Centre. Police located the male a short time after arrival. It was found that the male was not carrying a firearm and there was no evidence to suggest that the male was ever armed while on campus.
While there was no actual threat to students on Campus, the perceived threat left many employees of the university and students shaken up from the incident. Students who were in the Student Centre were shuffled inside the Breezeway with little warning as a result of little communication from administration on the actual issue that was occurring.
Noreen Golfman, Provost of MUN, wrote in her blog “We need to do a better job and we will do better in future.”
“I apologize for the stress, confusion and upset that was experienced. That isn’t right and we will use this experience to improve.”
Since October 6, many people across campus have been working hard to ensure the safety of students, staff, and faculty at MUN. November 8 marked the official launch date of the Campus safety application for smartphone users on campus.
The app allows users to receive instant notifications, alerts, and instructions from Campus Enforcement and Patrol when on-campus emergencies occur. The app also includes a variety of tools and resources for students, faculty, and staff.
While the initial roll out of the app features information specific to the St. John’s campus, the Office of the Chief Risk Officer is working on versions specific to Grenfell Campus and the Marine Institute.
In an interview with the Muse, Kris Parsons, Chief Risk Officer for Memorial University, said “We were looking for a way to engage with the members of the university and students for reporting health and safety concerns.”
“We’ve been trying to develop a safety culture, and build a stronger safety culture on campus. Reporting from faculty and staff has been steadily improving. But on the student side, we didn’t know if we had the right tools to engage, to make it easier for people to report things like slippery walkways, things they may see in a lab, or other things like that.”
Parsons says the app has been introduced by a number of other Canadian universities and has had overwhelmingly positive feedback not only from other Canadian universities, but also from the control test group that MUN had been working along side of when developing the interface of the app.
One of the best things about the app, Parsons said, is the ability to send push notifications; it’s a mass notification that any student would receive on their smartphone provided they have the app.
Parsons said that one of the largest complaints they’ve received about the October 6 incident is that people weren’t made aware of the issue in a timely fashion.
“We heard loud and clear from the university community so we expedited our rollout of the app to get that in place as soon as possible.”
While not all students have smart phones and are not aided from this app, Parsons says that there are other avenues being investigated right now to help students in crisis, or in emergency situations on campus in St. John’s.
To find out more information about the MUN Safety app, please check out https://www.mun.ca/health_safety/