December 2, 2016

Webster Alerts fail to alert

Webster Groves is known for being a pretty good area. Everybody knows each other, people ride their bikes, families stop by the farmer’s market and students wander Webster University’s campus around the clock.

With an open campus and friendly neighborhood, one would think the last worry they should have is safety. However on Friday, Sept. 25, safety became a huge concern for everyone, except the university.

The Webster Groves Police Dept. received a call around nine that morning of shots fired literally two minutes away from campus. On this normal, sunny day, Webster was buzzing with typical student traffic. Coffee and textbooks in hand, kids were talking, laughing and innocently hurrying to class, completely unaware a man that .6 miles away was believed to have a gun.

The sickening part is that the students were just that – unaware. An article from The Journal said all Webster Groves area schools immediately went on lockdown. Meanwhile Webster University continued classes in full swing, making no attempt to let students know.

With a crime committed so close to home, how was it not a priority to notify students of the situation? The Journal reported that a Webster University representative said the school was in contact with the police and were told the shooter headed away from campus. How this reasoning excuses the behavior (or lack thereof) of the school, I do not know.

The heartbreaking truth is that our world is no longer safe. Colleges are getting shot up at a scary rate, and with that frequency one would think safety is a much bigger priority nationwide.

It was only three years ago that Adam Lanza savagely took the lives of 20 six-year-olds and six adults in the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, according to the Biography website.

A Washington Post article from 2014 said there had been 95 school shootings since Sandy Hook. They equalized that out to one shooting a week. Now that that is in perspective, let us talk about 2015.

On Oct. 1, CNN reported a gunman left 10 people dead and over 20 injured at an Oregon community college. Shortly after, I was getting phone calls from my mom, letting me know she was moving me back home and never letting me out. After inappropriate joking on my part, we got to the subject of the Webster gunman.

To summarize that conversation, the university should brace themselves because the wrath of Mrs. Hall is not kind. You really cannot blame her though. Her daughter and daughter’s friends were a little too close to a potentially deadly situation. However we all lived in ignorant bliss due to Webster’s lack of communication and twisted priorities.

My mother is not alone. I have friends telling me the same stories of parents in uproar. Luckily the entire town of Webster Groves was spared due to a quick arrest by WGPD, but in 2015, it is not crazy to think of what might have happened.

Thank God, Buddha or whatever you believe in for saving us, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for letting us know, because we certainly cannot thank Webster.

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  • Patrick Giblin

    During a crisis, it is the responsibility of communicators
    to send out relevant, accurate and timely information, which helps minimize
    unnecessary panic or confusion. As shared previously with the Journal, the
    University was told within minutes of the first report of gunshots that 1.)
    there was no threat to the University and 2.) it was not verified that there
    was a gunman at all. In fact, it turned out that shots were never fired and the
    “suspect” never had a gun. In essence,
    there was no safety risk. The University works closely with the Webster Groves
    Police Department and follows their advice in situations such as this. Patrick
    Giblin, director of Public Relations