Two weeks after a shooting took the life of an 18-year-old Skokie resident on Clark Street Beach adjacent to Northwestern’s Evanston campus, the University continues to review its practices and policies in response to the shooting, as is done after any emergency on or near its campuses.
The shooting highlighted the complexity of such situations, in which information – and subsequent communications – can change in real time, which often creates challenges in balancing the speed and accuracy of communications.
The University has made some initial updates to existing protocols that can improve future responses, including developing a larger number of templated messages that are easier and quicker to send in an emergency and refined protocols to quickly send a first message while more detailed information is being collected for subsequent messages. The University also will continue to work closely with the City of Evanston and the City of Chicago to ensure effective communication and coordination.
To ensure all community members receive emergency communications when they are sent, Northwestern encourages all students, faculty and staff to verify and, if necessary, update their emergency messaging contact information in myHR or CAESAR. Emergency communications sent by text message often are delivered the fastest.
A Feb. 15, 2023 update to the community provided comprehensive information about how to best utilize the University’s AlertNU system and additional details for preparing to respond to an emergency.
Northwestern recommends that parents, contractors, visitors, vendors, Evanston residents, hospital partners in Chicago and others opt into the emergency communication system. All can enroll in AlertNU by texting “AlertNU” to 226787. For more information, visit the About Emergency Notifications webpage, which includes answers to frequently asked questions.
The University also is conducting a review of campus buildings to identify areas where doors were difficult or confusing to lock during the April 12 shelter-in-place period. That review comes as a cross-functional Campus Facilities Incident Work Group examines building security across the Evanston and Chicago campuses in response to unrelated incidents of thefts, vandalism and disruptions. Some buildings on the Evanston campus now require a Wildcard for entry.
All faculty, staff and students are reminded to carry their Wildcards with them at all times on campus, so that they can access buildings without difficulty. Community members are encouraged to check the expiration date on their Wildcards and renew them if they have expired or will soon.