Campus Shooting Dialogue Planning Team Concludes Work, Transitions to Community of Practice

Following an increase in violence on college campuses in late 2015, the ACUI Board of Trustees created the Campus Shooting Dialogue Planning Team, a task force to examine action-based efforts that union and activities professionals could take on their own campuses to better understand campus shootings and how to prepare for them.

“It is important for college unions and student activities professionals be prepared to address incidents of violence on campus,” said John Taylor, ACUI CEO. “This group helped ACUI to start a dialogue with our members and determine how to best provide them the necessary education.”

During initial meetings, the group considered the breadth of information about this topic and how to synthesize it for ACUI members. The team decided to focus on three primary themes that emerged: prevention, incident response, and post-event recovery.  

In 2016, the team provided educational content, including written pieces for The Commons, ACUI’s former blog, as well as educational sessions and passive participation activities at the Annual Conference in New Orleans. Information gathered through these opportunities allowed the team to fine tune the educational and programmatic needs of the membership. 

The Week of Dialogue, April 25–29, 2016, was created to provide a set time that campuses across the United States could implement programming regarding campus violence, prevention, mental health, and other related issues.

“Unfortunately, the timing kept many campuses from participating, but those that did took advantage of ready-to-use programs and assessment tools to guide on-campus discussions,” said Team Chair Sarah Comstock, University of Puget Sound.

Additional educational opportunities were provided at regional conferences in late 2016, and team members presented a session focused on emergency preparedness at the 2017 Annual Conference in Philadelphia. During the Q&A at the end of the session, the presenters fielded a variety of requests for more information on general preparation for student unions, and more specifically, emergency response training for student staff, which inspired the Active Threat Preparedness and Response webinar in August 2017.

"This educational outing was one of our most successful,” Comstock said. “We had more than 40 participants on the webinar and received positive praise. It was from this webinar that we developed a common source presentation that we could use during the regional conferences.”

Those sessions were presented at six out of the eight regional conferences in late 2017. It was at this point that the team made a decision to take its work in a different direction.
After discussion, assessment of the work done, and consideration of the current climate on college campuses, the team decided to create a community of practice around the topic of emergency preparedness. While active shooters and violence are still of concern, union and activities professionals are facing a wide variety of issues within their buildings and campus communities. 

The community’s mission is to examine long- and short-term action-based efforts to facilitate and encourage a constructive approach for college union professionals and their campuses to discuss best practices for emergency preparedness, general safety measures, response, and effective training in college unions and on campuses. 

“We are excited that the team will be rededicating itself to this evolving idea and that it will allow more ACUI members to be part of the discussion,” Comstock said.

This new ACUI community will launch in February.
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