The University held a town hall meeting on Thursday to address the failure of LMU’s emergency management response during the Nov. 9 incident, when a prank gone wrong resulted in an LAPD active shooter response.
At the town hall, President Snyder opened the meeting by apologizing to the community and summarizing the steps the University is taking to address their lack of response. According to Snyder:
- Administration members, including the Dean of Students Terri Mangione, Director of SPS Kristin Linden and professor William Parham from the School of Education, have met with students to offer comfort and support.
- Assistant Chief Danny Martinez has taken over DPS on an interim basis, and Snyder said DPS has reviewed its training and protocols and has “confirmed their readiness.”
- The independent law firm Musick Peeler & Garrett has been hired to investigate University processes and protocols from an “external, impartial perspective,” according to Snyder.
“We are committed to finding out what happened through a comprehensive review, and we are also committed to being transparent about the findings,” President Snyder said.
The town hall also allowed questions and comments from the audience.
“I am angry. I believe your communication right now is promoting vulnerability,” Robyn Cerutti, the mother of a student, said in an emotional comment to the panel. “You need to be more definitive. Right now, everybody knows LMU is vulnerable. What is going to keep somebody from really coming onto campus? I want to know how everybody in this room and my son are safe today, not wait for an investigation.”
Additionally, some students took issue with the time of the panel, as it was held early in the day while classes were in session, which prevented many from attending.
Common questions submitted through a form sent in President’s Snyder’s email included: “Why wasn’t there an alert sent out right away?”, “When will the investigation results be available?”, “What is happening to the person who pulled this prank?” and “Will anyone in the DPS be held accountable?” Questions pertaining to the investigation, University personnel and student conduct processes were not answered. In terms of when the investigation results will be available, Rebecca Chandler, vice president of human resources, had no definitive response, only that the investigation was underway.
Other concerns included emergency procedures for LMU’s other campus sites, the speed of social media, protocol in the daycare center and the opt-out option of LMU’s safety app, LiveSafe.
“I think the panel was a start,” said Alo Coleman, ASLMU president. “I’m so thankful people shared their experiences. Students are right, [the panel members] weren’t [on campus during the active shooter]. It hurt me, and I know they felt it too, how real the situation was for all of us.”
A test of the LMU emergency response system was conducted Friday morning at 10:00 a.m. and appeared to be successful.
ASLMU also addressed Public Safety’s mishandled, delayed response to the incident on Wednesday in its weekly senate meeting.
Sam Cassidy, a junior film and television production and psychology double major, was in attendance and brought up their idea for a student-run Twitter account to inform students about emergency situations. With the handle @lmu_watchdogs, Cassidy hopes that the account will be a faster way to update students by working with RAs and RDs and keeping the Twitter student-run.
“LMU DPS is allegedly investigating and improving their systems,” Cassidy said. “But while they are doing so, and in the event those systems fail, we now have something more immediate to rely on.”
Cassidy said the way they and other students received information Friday night—through police scanner, social media accounts and messages with friends—gave them the idea for an emergency alert Twitter account. Cassidy explained how they were told several different stories about what the situation was on Friday before they knew what truly happened. They believed if a system such as their Twitter account had been in place, students would have been able to get information from students directly affected and would have caused less confusion and rumors.
“[The Department of Public Safety] didn’t do their job in this case, but [neither did] RAs, RDs … library staff,” Luca Basilone, speaker of the senate and junior entrepreneurship major, said. “Moving forward, what we were discussing is how can we integrate all of these different areas on campus and make sure that we are aware of what happened.”
Other plans ASLMU discussed in the future were zoning areas around campus that are the safest to be if there is a threat, which included University Hall, the Habit and the library. Additionally, the availability of SPS resources were brought up, as students have complained about the difficulty they’ve experienced in receiving adequate, timely help.
“This is going to be a long-term journey. It’s going to take time and it's going to take teamwork,” Brenda Quintanilla, ASLMU vice president, said. “We have a brainstorm of action steps, but we don’t know how realistic they are.”
To watch the full video of the town hall, click here.
“It was tough because we don’t have a lot of answers,” Thomas Poon, vice president and provost, said. “But what I got from this panel was so many different avenues that we have to explore … What was brought to light is going to be so helpful to us.”