Crisis Management Guide for Campus

The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of the processes and procedures to be followed in the event of a crisis involving Goshen College.

Goshen College distinction between an emergency and a crisis

In most situations and institutions the words “crisis” and “emergency” are used interchangeably. Goshen College chooses to make the following distinction in how we use the two words.

Emergency: An emergency is an immediate event, condition or situation that has the potential to cause harm or injury to individual(s) and/or damage to property and/or significantly disrupt the operation of the institution. Any person on campus may be called upon to respond to an emergency and should be practiced and prepared to do so when the situation is encountered.

Crisis: A crisis is an event, condition or situation that has the potential to cause harm or injury to individual(s) and/or damage to property and/or significantly disrupt the operation of the institution, threaten the institution’s financial standing or its ability to fulfill the institution’s mission beyond the immediacy of an emergency. An emergency must be addressed instantaneously whereas a crisis can endure for an extended period of time. An off-campus emergency will be considered a crisis.

Not every crisis is an emergency and not every emergency is a crisis.

Examples:

  • A tornado warning is an emergency. It is not a crisis.
  • If a tornado hits the campus it remains an emergency for the next short period of time and a likely crisis for many days.
  • A gas leak and subsequent evacuation of a building is an emergency.
  • If there is an explosion and injuries, then it additionally becomes a crisis.
  • If an SST group is involved in a bus accident in Peru it is a crisis. (It is also an emergency in Peru, but not an on-campus emergency).
  • If the entire faculty threaten to strike or students stage a mass nonviolent protest in the dining hall, it is a crisis.
  • If they start throwing bricks; that is an emergency.

The distinction can break down in any specific scenario, but making the distinction early in an incident determines what the appropriate first response should be and whether or not it is necessary to assemble the crisis management team.

Who should I call if I become aware of an emergency or potential crisis?

Your primary concern is to save lives and prevent injury, so call 911 immediately.
When any person on campus becomes aware of an obvious emergency (e.g., fire, gas leak, injured person) he/she should:

  1. Call 911, stating your name, location, and nature of incident, and then
  2. Immediately call Campus Security at extension 7599 (answered by Physical Plant during regular business hours). The role of Security is to monitor and report, not function as “first responders.” They will immediately ask if 911 has been notified.

When any person on campus becomes aware of a situation that is an uncertain emergency (e.g., unfamiliar sounds coming from a mechanical area, activity in a building that would typically be locked) he/she should:

  1. Immediately call Campus Security at extension 7599. The role of Security is to monitor and report, not function as “first responders.” They will immediately investigate and contact 911 if needed.

In either situation, Campus Security will then notify the designated campus contact according to the situation. Should the emergency have the potential of becoming a crisis, the Crisis Management Coordinator (CMC) will be contacted. The CMC, in consultation with either a Crisis Management Team (CMT) member and/or the President (when appropriate and possible), will determine whether the situation is an emergency or a crisis.

Who is on the Crisis Management Team?

The Crisis Management Team (CMT) is composed of the following persons by virtue of their responsibility or office:

  1. Bill Born, Vice President for Student Life (CMC)
  2. Jim Brenneman, President
  3. Anita Stalter, Vice President for Academic Affairs
  4. Tom Meyers, Director of International Education
  5. Jim Caskey, Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement
  6. James Townsend, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing
  7. Jim Histand, Vice President for Finance
  8. Richard Aguirre, Director of Communications and Marketing
  9. Clay Shetler, Director of Facilities
  10. Norm Bakhit, Director of Human Resources
  11. Al Mackowiak, Director of Campus Safety and Security
  12. Deanna Risser (Recorder)

Each of these team members can call upon others within their staff as needed, but decisions are made by team members or their designated alternates only. The Crisis Management Coordinator is appointed by the President to coordinate actions of the Crisis Management Team in the event of a declared crisis.

The primary purpose of the CMT is to facilitate the institution’s response to a crisis through coordinated efforts and consistent messages so that routine operations can be restored as quickly as appropriate given the circumstance. The President or his designee will coordinate and disseminate (with the assistance of the Director of Communications and Marketing) all communication during a crisis.

How can faculty and staff assist during a crisis?

Ways faculty/staff can assist include: a. Attend any meetings called by the College President or his designee to explain the circumstances of the crisis and give direction to faculty/staff. b. Read a statement prepared by Communications and Marketing to classes, if necessary. c. Provide opportunity for students to discuss the incident and to express their feelings. d. Acknowledge emotions through discussion and involvement in constructive activities in class. e. Remind students that people may approach them from the media, but they do not need to talk with them if they do not wish to. f. Identify students who are obviously in distress and talk to them or direct them to a group or individual counseling activity. g. Request assistance from the Crisis Management Team if a class has a large number of distressed students. h. Shorten and restructure assignments when appropriate. Postpone and reschedule tests and other projects as necessary. i. Pray individually and pray in groups.

GENERAL PROCEDURES FOR DEALING WITH THE NEWS MEDIA:

In an emergency, the media is Goshen College’s most important link to the public. Developing and maintaining positive relationships with the media outlets is crucial to successful crisis communications.

Do’s:

  • Notify the Communications and Marketing Office if you are contacted by the news media.
  • Only give the media information that you have received through campus communications.
  • Direct or take members of the media to the Media Center (CMC Fellowship Hall).

Don’ts:

  • Do not offer speculations or gossip.
  • Do not be condescending or underestimate the reporter’s intelligence, but do make sure the reporter understands your responses.
  • Remember you do NOT have to talk with a member of the media.
  • Do not place blame for the incident.
  • Do not cover up or mislead the media.
  • Do not feel you have to handle this alone; ask the Marketing and Communications Office for help.

Private Information

Any media inquiries that involve information about specific students should be directed to the Vice President for Student Life or to the Director of Communications and Marketing. Such inquiries will be handled in strict compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This federal law protects the confidentiality of a student’s education record and some personal information. Information that may be given includes information found in a directory: the student’s full name, campus address and phone number, dates of attendance and degrees, honors and certificates received, class level (e.g. freshman), and academic major(s). Grades may only be provided to the media if a student wishes to release the information in connection with an award or scholarship. Again, it is vital to direct such request for information to the Vice President for Student Life or to the Director of Communications and Marketing. As noted above, any information released by the Director of Public Relations is considered appropriate for distribution.