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Revise Western Michigan University Policy for the Use of the WMU Emergency Alert System

This petition had 1,549 supporters

Tragically on the night of Saturday February 20th, 2016, at least seven people were fatally shot in Kalamazoo by a serial shooter who remained un-captured for hours. This is a sad tragedy for our community and our hearts go out to those victims' families. In those crucial hours before the suspect was apprehended by KDPS, community members were primarily concerned with preventing further violence and alerting others to stay safe.

Western Michigan University has a system by which large numbers of community members could have been alerted about the possible danger, called the WMU Emergency Alert System. This system notifies students of emergencies and closings via text message and/or phone call, a highly efficient way to communicate information to community members. Unfortunately this alert system was not used to notify students of the active serial shooter within two miles of the university. During this time students relied on verying information from the social media app YikYak and local news outlets. Major news companies like CNN, NBC, and the BBC were also reporting on the story.

We understand that the WMU Alert System is only used to report significant threats occurring directly on the Western Michigan University campus. However, if the goal of the university is to keep as many students safe as possible, a review of the policies regarding the use of the WMU Alert System is necessary.

We believe:

1. The University has an equal responsibility to report significant threats within the greater residential sphere immediately surrounding the university just as it does threats occurring on campus.

2. The existence of WMU is responsible for the existence of the student residential sphere immediately surrounding campus. The university has equal ethical responsibility in maintaining their safety via the WMU Alert System as they do students on campus regarding major threats. 

3. Dangerous threats within the community must be prioritized and a WMU Alert must be issued in a prompt manner that alerts students of the present danger, not simply events that have already occurred.

4. More collaboration between the Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement services is necessary to making these changes.

5. Any further revisions that community members or the university believe necessary must be seriously considered.

Now it is time to mourn the  members of our community who we have lost to this horrible act of violence. Gun violence is an epidemic in America, and with American college campuses increasingly becoming shooting scenes, we as a community and higher education institution must come together to create solutions that keep us all safer. Thankfully this did not happen on campus, but now Western Michigan University has an opportunity to invest in student safety and take leadership in solving the growing problems we face due to gun violence. A small but important step in doing so lies in the revision of university policies regarding the use of the WMU Emergency Alert System. 

Please sign and share if you believe our campus community can find smart solutions to addressing these issues. 

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