By Andrea Gallo | LSU Student
LSU Emergency Operations Center (EOC) core committee chairwoman D'Ann Morris Tuesday took responsibility for what many students and faculty members deemed a lack of clear communication in the Sept. 17 evacuation of the campus based on a bomb threat.
The EOC forum, which attracted around 50 students, faculty and staff members, was a chance for university officials involved in the evacuation to hear proposed improvements should an evacuation occur in the future. Attendees lodged complaints and concerns as Morris and LSUPD Chief of Police Lawrence Rabalais explained the university's current evacuation procedures.
Morris said she chose the initial text message that went out on Sep. 17 telling everyone to "evacuate as calmly and quickly as possible."
"My fault," she told the group. "I should have done a better job of communicating what was in that text message," she said, noting that she didn't work with an LSUPD public information officer when deciding on the message. "We have a list of all kinds of templates now as it relates to bomb threats."
One of the templates includes different methods of evacuation not included in the original message. Other changes that Morris said the EOC wants to make are improving communication and protocols, providing evacuation and emergency procedures online and working with building coordinators to better educate them on emergency protocols.
Morris debunked the rumor that LSU's Mike the Tiger was evacuated before everyone else.
Others at the forum suggested sending out text messages in foreign languages for international students and using an automated calling system instead of, or in addition to, texting those subscribed to the emergency service.
Claire Strickland, sociology junior, told the forum she was on the Texas A&M campus when it was evacuated for a bomb threat. It was more organized, efficient and clear than in LSU's case, she said.
Rabalais said he sent Texas A&M a list of what worked, what didn't work and suggestions in the event of a similar situation. Thus, Texas A&M was more prepared for its bomb threat than LSU was, Rabalais said.
"This (the bomb threat) was unprecedented. Just like when [Hurricane] Katrina happened in 2005, it was much better with [Hurricane] Isaac."
Strickland suggested LSU creates a similar emergency system like Texas A&M's "Code Maroon," that's familiar to all students. Morris said the EOC is looking into devising a similar code for LSU.
Strickland also noted that some professors do not allow their students to have their phones on their desks during class and not every professor has a cell phone, meaning not every student would be capable of receiving the message. Morris said the problem could be solved by better training and utilizing building coordinators.
Morris reminded those attending the forum that emergency communication is a "shared responsibility," and that students need to be responsible for their own safety once alerted to an emergency.