The time has come for John Carroll University to re-evaluate what emergency procedures are currently in place. Specifically, how to academically proceed if there were to be some sort of emergency in which the campus would need to be shut down for more than a few days.
A committee has been put into place to handle purely the academic aspect of an emergency or disaster on campus.
“We wanted, as an institution, to create a comprehensive plan in case the University would need to be shut down,” said Nick Santilli, associate academic vice president for planning and assessment.
The main focus is to figure out how to proceed with classes if either the campus had to be evacuated or quarantined.
One possibility that Santilli suggested was to migrate courses to the Web. There are very realistic problems with this situation though, such as students with internships and students in the natural sciences who have to attend lab courses. These are the dilemmas that the committee faces.
This is not the first time that a plan like this has been put into place. JCU has had different plans as to how to respond academically to an emergency, but from time to time these plans need to be updated, according to Santilli.
“One thing that really needs to be done is we need to think more deeply about the various types of things that challenge institutions,” said Santilli.
The three things that this committee will really be looking at are the recent Virginia Tech Shootings, the outbreak of the Avian Flu, and Hurricane Katrina.
Although these are three significant events, this committee will be planning for much more than simply these three events. Everything from a tornado to an armed intruder to a pandemic breaking on campus will be covered.
“One problem in creating something like this is the line is changed with each new event,” Santilli said.
This committee is still in a very preliminary stage. They have not actually met for the first time quite yet.
There is another committee on campus that has been established for over a year, which would deal with how the campus as a community would respond to an emergency.
One good thing about the academic committee is that the Associate Deans of the Boler, Liberal Arts & Sciences and the Graduate school will all sit on it so that this plan can be tailored to the individual needs of each department.
Santilli specified that although JCU has a variety of unique needs as an institution there are also parts of plans that other universities have implemented that could be used here on campus.
Because the committee has not yet officially met it is difficult to lay out a timetable of when the plan will be finished.
However, Santilli said, “I’m hoping we’ll make some progress this academic year.”