Study Finds Many Colleges May Be Neglecting Emergency Preparedness

One in four institutions of higher education have never conducted any type of active shooter exercise on campus.

Despite the fact that 86 percent of U.S. institutions of higher education have developed an emergency operations plan (EOP), more than one in four (26.5 percent) have never conducted a comprehensive hazard and vulnerability assessment critical to the development of appropriate all-hazard emergency planning. These were just some of the findings of Margolis Healy’s 2015 Campus Safety Survey, prompting study authors to question the effectiveness and accuracy of American colleges’ current EOPs.

View the charts.

The study, which surveyed 513 campus public safety stakeholders, also found that one quarter of its respondents (25.4 percent) have never conducted any type of active shooter exercises on campus. “Budget constraints” was the number one reason why campuses are not doing these exercises.

Nearly a third (31 percent) of participants from four-year institutions said their institution doesn’t have any staff dedicated to emergency preparedness, while 41.2 percent of respondents from two-year institutions don’t have staff dedicated to this activity. Additionally, less than half (48 percent) said their college re-evaluates their plans when new threats or gaps are identified after a significant emergency at any U.S. campus.

With regards to campus public safety, the study found that more colleges are now using both sworn and nonsworn officers, with 41 percent of all four-year campuses having hybrid departments. In total, 42.6 percent of campus public safety departments are non-sworn compared to sworn (37.9 percent).

The study also found that six in 10 respondents from four-year colleges believe their campuses don’t have enough staff to meet their school’s public safety needs, while more than one in four two-year institutions (76.5 percent) say they are understaffed. These numbers confirm findings from Campus Safety’s most recent Salary Survey, which found that a significant majority of university survey respondents say their departments are grossly understaffed.

The participants’ perception of this issue depends on who was asked: nearly seven out of 10 campus safety officials believe they did not have appropriate staffing levels compared to four out of 10 of campus leadership (presidents, provosts, etc.) and nearly five out of 10 of key campus staff (general counsel, student affairs, etc.).

Concern about Title IX compliance also varies, depending on who responded. More than half (56.8 percent) of campus safety officials agreed with the statement “I am concerned about Title IX violations” (gender violence, sexual harassment, etc.), while that percentage increases to 62.7 percent for key campus staff and to 65.9 percent for leadership.

Confidence in the campus annual security report (ASR) Clery Act compliance is greatest among senior leadership, with only 23.4 percent saying they have even minor violations. Other respondents are less confident, with 37.8 percent of key campus staff and 40 percent of campus safety officials believing their ASRs have minor violations.

View the charts.

Read the full report.

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