Findings of the Review of the Events of May 1, 2017 on Colgate University’s Campus

On May 2, President Brian Casey charged two senior administration members, Kim Waldron and Christopher Wells, with conducting a review of the May 1 events on the Colgate campus and providing their findings within ten days. Below is a summary of the review’s findings, related details and recommendations.

1. Colgate Campus Safety officers acted within established protocols by engaging law enforcement in response to a report of an armed person.

  • Campus Safety’s decision to call 911 and engage external police forces, after receiving a report of a potential armed threat, followed standard university protocol and was appropriate.
  • When he authorized the notification to 911, the Campus Safety shift supervisor did not know the race of the individual reported as potentially armed.
  • Once law enforcement was called to the scene of a potential emergency on the campus, these external agencies were in control of the police response.
  • The university must work more diligently at strengthening our relationship with and understanding of external agencies.

2. There were significant problems with the university’s emergency response, particularly with respect to emergency management and the communications to the campus.

  • There were technical and procedural barriers to effective emergency communications, and a lack of adequate training in emergency response.
  • Campus Safety and law enforcement appear to have been aware that they were dealing with the sighting of a potentially armed person, not an active shooter. However, some of the alert messages sent to the campus community inaccurately indicated that Colgate was experiencing an active shooter due to user error within the RAVE emergency notification system.
  • The inaccurate designation of the events of the evening as involving an active shooter was alarming for members of the campus community, especially for many students of color, who feared that an armed response to an active shooter could specifically endanger their safety.
  • The university should conduct a thorough review of emergency management and response structures, procedures and protocols, and conduct additional training and preparedness exercises.
  • The university should provide more information and training for students, faculty and staff on what to do in emergency situations.
  • The university should enhance protocols and tools for emergency communications both within the emergency management structures and to the campus and off-campus communities.

3. The experiences of these events demonstrate the significant work the university must do to create and sustain the inclusive environment that will allow all students to achieve the full potential of a Colgate education.

  • There is no appropriate way within the timeframe and scope of this investigation to fully, or even preliminarily, assess the role that bias might have played in the initial report to Campus Safety of perceptions of an armed person entering the Coop.
  • The university should aggressively consider the ways in which it can shape the campus environment to minimize the likelihood that members of our community will be inaccurately perceived as threats.
  • The university needs to do more to make the Campus Safety department a resource that can effectively support all members of the community.
  • The university should provide training to Colgate employees on working with and serving a diverse community, and recognizing and avoiding racial bias.