As a graduate of Western Michigan University and former resident of Kalamazoo for five years, I was deeply saddened and disturbed when I went on Twitter on Saturday, Feb. 20 and saw the horrific news of a domestic terrorist driving around town and shooting people at random.
When I was a student at WMU, we were always alerted whenever something suspicious was going on near or on campus. The WMU Department of Public Safety sent out mass texts and phone calls to students and alert them if there was ever anything that could potentially harmful.
I vividly remember being woken up numerous times in the the middle of the night because of an armed robbery or break-in that happened on campus. The situations were not safe, but I felt safe knowing that DPS was on top of alerting students.
So imagine my feeling when I learned early this morning that not a single alert was sent out to students regarding this mass shooting. I was alerted one time when there was a gas leak in a building, but current students were not informed when a crazed Uber driver is shooting people between stops?
WMU Freshman Parker Edwards informed me that he tried calling WMU's DPS late Saturday night and was told to not worry. "After hearing about the DPS shootings, I called DPS and asked why we haven't received an alert. I was told that it did not occur on campus and to stay vigilant and report suspicious activity to DPS."
So what WMU was essentially saying was that since the shootings didn't happen directly on campus, then the safety of its students was not in danger, right? Lets break it down.
There are roughly 23,914 students enrolled at Western as of 2014. WMU's website says that 1 and 4 students live on campus- so that's roughly 5,978 students. Meaning that roughly 17, 936 students live off campus- in the community of Kalamazoo where people were being shot at. And WMU doesn't feel the need to alert its students because nothing happened on campus?
Obviously, students and alumni are furious about the lack of communication. Many took to social media to express their concerns.
It's amazing that a MASS SHOOTING can occur but the WMU alert system doesn't let us know when 2 PEOPLE DIE LESS THAN A MILE FROM CAMPUS.— Casey Horjus (@CaseyBenchLife) February 21, 2016
wmu didn't even alert us. Thank god for social media!— lᏋχ ❤️ (@_alexisparks2) February 21, 2016
I'm even more pissed at WMU now! I just found out that KVCC sent out an Alert and K College went on lock down. Seriously shame on you, WMU.— Cylor (@futuregaypilot) February 21, 2016
Thank the lord I get alerts about an armed robbery or gas leak but when a mass shooting occurs?? Nothing. Shame on Western.— Mackenzie Benson (@MackenzieVB) February 21, 2016
Luckily, the Kalamazoo police worked diligently and found the shooter, but imagine if a WMU student had been a victim and was not notified about a mass shooter driving around town?
Students are now asking University President John Dunn to change the way the DPS deals with actual threats to not just WMU as a campus, but to Kalamazoo as a community. The reality is that students live where rent is affordable and that is not on campus. There is an online petition that you can sign to address this very serious issue.