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Questions and Answers About Campus Safety

Last updated: March 2014

The University is committed to providing the safest campus environment that we can for the campus community. No university campus is a safe haven. Campus safety is always a major priority at Carolina, and something that the University constantly strives to improve. We are always learning from recent events around the state and nation, and we engage in a similar process every time we face an incident or situation on our own campus or in the local community.

GENERAL SAFETY INFORMATION
What should I do to report something suspicious?
What is the role of the University's Department of Public Safety?
What is the University doing to keep the campus safe?
Do students have access to emergency health-care resources?
Can campus visitors walk into buildings or classrooms?
How does the University update its emergency response plans?

COMMUNICATION DURING AN EMERGENCY
How will I know if there is a campus emergency?
How can I get updated information?
How will the University communicate during a pandemic?

RESPONDING TO A SAFETY THREAT
Would the University lock down the campus if faced with a serious threat?
How would that decision be implemented?
Are campus police prepared to deal with the threat of a gunman?
Are students allowed to have guns on campus if they have a permit?
How does the University deal with troubled students or other individuals who could potentially pose a safety risk?
What can faculty members do about a disruptive student?
What should faculty members do if someone threatens their class?
Who can address concerns about a specific student? Do privacy laws limit what I can say?
Who can help with concerns about a co-worker?
What should I do if there is an explosion in a laboratory?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

GENERAL SAFETY INFORMATION

What should I do to report something suspicious?
If you see something – or someone – suspicious, don’t hesitate to call the Department of Public Safety at 911. Likewise, if someone on campus or any University facility poses a threat, call 911 immediately. When you dial 911 from a UNC phone or emergency call box, the call goes directly to UNC public safety. But do not call 911 for general information. The Alert Carolina Web site will be updated to provide current information about a campus emergency.

What is the role of the University's Department of Public Safety?
The Department of Public Safety serves a University community of more than 41,000 students, faculty and staff. In many ways, the University functions like a small but complex city. Campus police help prevent crimes, protect students, employees and visitors, enforce the law and safeguard the investment the people of North Carolina have made in the University. The department has earned recognition for its successful approach to community policing from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. 

The department has more than 50 sworn officers including an investigations unit, special bike patrols, a community response unit that focuses on issues such as larceny reduction as well as traffic and pedestrian safety, a dog specially trained in explosives detection, a 911 public safety answering point service (which also backs up Orange County’s 911 emergency communications) and a silent witness program to encourage the reporting of suspicious activities. Public safety has mutual aid agreements with city and county law enforcement and other municipal agencies.

What is the University doing to keep the campus safe?
Emergency Call Boxes: In recent years the University has installed about 200 emergency call boxes across the campus in quadrangles, pedestrian areas and parking decks. The call boxes are nine feet tall and have a blue light on top. Anyone on campus can use these call boxes to report suspicious activity or to seek help. Users push the button to automatically alert police where they are. Police will respond immediately. For current call box locations, see http://www.maps.unc.edu/CampusMaps/PdfMaps/CallBoxMap.pdf.

Campus Lighting: Twice a year the University conducts a campus lighting tour with student leaders to identify any problem areas that need improvement or attention.

Transportation: The express bus service, Point-to-Point, serves students, faculty and staff with continuous loop transportation between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. during fall and spring semesters. Point-to-Point also offers an on-demand shuttle for students, faculty and staff with special needs or students who need a ride to or from Campus Health Services. Both services augment the fare-free services provided by Chapel Hill Transit. For scheduling information, see http://www.dps.unc.edu/Transit/transitnav.cfm.

Crime Prevention Education: Public safety works closely with the student affairs staff to educate students in residence halls and other settings about crime and safety issues. A crime prevention specialist offers rape defense training for women. Several campus departments offer self-defense training and related resources. The University also has an extensive workplace violence prevention policy in place. See http://hr.unc.edu/Data/SPA/employeerelations/harassment/violence for details.

Safety Tips: The University shares safety tips with the community on the public safety Web page (see http://www.dps.unc.edu/Police/policenav.cfm) as well as this Alert Carolina site. The annual security report includes crime statistics. For the most recent report, see http://www.dps.unc.edu/securityreport/.

Do students have access to emergency health-care resources?
The South Orange Rescue Squad operates a satellite location on campus. Campus Health Services are open for students from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends during fall and spring semesters and on weekdays only during summer months.

After hours, students may call the main number, 966-2281, to reach UNC HealthLink, the UNC Health Care nurse advice hotline. (Other campus resources for faculty and staff include the University Employee Health Occupational Health Clinic, 966-9119.) And the campus is home to the extensive trauma-level resources of the UNC Hospitals and UNC Health Care System.

Can campus visitors walk into buildings or classrooms?
Carolina is an open campus. As a public institution, we have always taken pride in providing the people of North Carolina and beyond with access to the University's people and resources. The University attracts visitors with diverse interests including cultural events, educational venues, libraries, health-care facilities and athletics.

A visitor may not walk into a classroom uninvited. Certain buildings have access restrictions, depending on the nature of the work that takes place within them – research laboratories and patient clinics are two examples. Student residence halls are locked 24 hours daily and require a key card to enter. Most classroom and academic buildings are locked at night. Some buildings remain open for academic or student life programs after 5 p.m.

How does the University update its emergency response plans?
Officials are always looking at best practices in evaluating our plans. The nation's focus in recent years on campus safety issues has provided opportunities to educate and remind the campus community about safety issues and the importance of reporting suspicious activity and using good judgment in their daily activities. We expect individuals to be responsible for their own safety and security by being careful, watching out for each other, and reporting suspicious activities and people.

 

COMMUNICATION DURING AN EMERGENCY

How will I know if there is a campus emergency?
The University plans to communicate about any emergency situation in several ways, including sirens and text messages. Any time an emergency arises, people will be directed to this Alert Carolina Web site, which is capable of handling high-volume traffic. University officials will post updates and instructions here. When there is no emergency, the site will say, “The University is currently operating under normal conditions.”

Siren System: The emergency siren system will sound during an immediate life-threatening situation such as an armed and dangerous person in the area, a major chemical spill or hazard, a tornado warning for Orange County issued by the National Weather Service or another emergency situation, as determined by the Department of Public Safety. If the siren sounds, people should be prepared to go inside or take cover immediately, and stay until further notice.

In an emergency, the siren will sound, followed by a public address announcement providing specific instructions for people outside the buildings. For example, the announcement could say: “Seek shelter inside now. Stay until further notice.” When the emergency is over, a second siren sound and announcement will signal: “All clear. Resume regular activities.”

For details about the siren system, including the siren tones, see http://alertcarolina.unc.edu/go/doc/1395/206156/

Text Messages: In conjunction with the sirens, University officials also will send emergency text messages to people who have listed their cell numbers in the campus directory. Anyone who has a UNC Onyen (the campus sign-on name provided to students, staff and faculty) and a cell phone capable of receiving text messages is eligible to receive emergency text messages.

Be sure you have provided a cell phone number in your campus directory listing. Simply go to http://dir.unc.edu/dir/home/uncdir.jsp and click on Update Entry. Enter your Onyen and password, and list your cell phone number in the space for mobile phone. Unless the cell phone is provided and paid for by the University, the number will be treated as confidential information. You can choose whether the entry is public or private.

Other Communications: The University also will continue to convey emergency information through campus e-mail messages, Web pages, the University Access Channel on local cable television (Cable Channel 4 in Chapel Hill), the Traveler's Information System at 1610 AM, and the Adverse Weather and Emergency Phone Line (843-1234) for recorded information.

How can I get updated information?
Emergency-related updates and instructions will be posted on Alert Carolina. Remember, though, that it may take time in an emergency for authorities to determine the facts and to provide the campus with instructions. Do not call 911 or the Department of Public Safety for general information. Police phone lines need to be kept open for emergency communications.

How will the University communicate during a pandemic?
The University has a Pandemic Flu Assessment Team of campus experts and key response departments to advise officials and communicate any necessary actions. In an outbreak or pandemic, Orange County Health Department and the State of North Carolina have authority to direct public health actions affecting the University, including quarantine.

In the case of a pandemic, the University would use the emergency communications methods outlined above to alert the Carolina community. Any health-related information, including notice that the campus had to be closed, or parts of campus were quarantined, or classes and/or sporting events had to be canceled, would be posted on this Web site. In addition, people would be notified by e-mail, text messages and voice-mail messages. Through these same communication methods, people would be notified when the risk(s) had passed.

You can find more information at http://www.ehs.unc.edu/healthy/fluplans.shtml.

 

RESPONDING TO A SAFETY THREAT

Would the University lock down the campus if faced with a serious threat?
The chancellor or his designee has the authority to close public access to the campus because of any situation that poses an imminent danger to the University community. In making that difficult choice, officials would have to balance the sense of openness and transparency synonymous with the Carolina experience against the vital need to adequately protect the safety of our community.

How would that decision be implemented?
With a campus of more than 700 acres and about 300 major buildings, we cannot completely cut off access to the entire University. But we can isolate particular areas of campus using a variety of law enforcement and transportation personnel to limit access, create perimeters and warn campus community members to stay where they are or to follow other safety procedures that are most appropriate for that particular situation.

Are campus police prepared to deal with the threat of a gunman?
Since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, police forces nationwide changed training procedures to anticipate similar scenarios. Carolina’s public safety department goes through a rigorous training schedule annually, which includes responding to an active shooter situation and getting emergency medical personnel to victims so they can provide medical attention. In spring 2010, the University began conducting drills specific to an active shooter scenario as part of a requirement from UNC General Administration. A full-scale drill is scheduled in late April 2010. The University will announce details beforehand.

Are students allowed to have guns on campus if they have a permit?
No. In North Carolina, it is a felony to possess a firearm on any campus. Any student with firearms on campus is subject to arrest by police and action under the Student Honor Code. See the University's policy at http://www.unc.edu/ugradbulletin/appendix.html#fireworks

How does the University deal with troubled students or other individuals who could potentially pose a safety risk?
When situations involving students suggest that their behavior poses danger either to themselves or to the community, our Emergency Evaluation and Action Committee is contacted. That group's review of the situation can include psychological evaluations, witness statements and conversations with the student and his or her parents.

The key question is whether the student's behavior poses a danger to the student and/or the University community and if the danger warrants emergency action. The student may be able to remain on campus with some safeguard measures in place to reduce the risk of future harm to self or others. Other emergency actions can include banning the student from campus until the risk has been reduced to the point that the student can return safely to Carolina.

These kinds of situations are brought to officials’ attention by parents, faculty, students and administrators. To see the policy on this topic, refer to http://deanofstudents.unc.edu/index.php/policies.html.

What can faculty members do about a disruptive student?
Set clear expectations about conduct – stated and in writing – at the beginning of a course.

If a student is disruptive in class, calmly and respectfully ask the student to stop the behavior. You might want to set a meeting to speak to the student outside of class. Calmly share your expectations for classroom conduct and how the student’s behavior is not in line with your expectations. Allow the student to share his/her feelings and perceptions about the conduct. Emphasize to the student that you will have to take disciplinary action if the behavior does not stop.

Terminate the meeting if the student becomes belligerent and explain that you will not continue until he or she calms down. Document serious incidents and share with the head of your department or school. You can always call the Dean of Students Office (966-4042) for advice and support.

If the student’s behavior causes you to be concerned for the safety of your class, call 911 for assistance. The Department of Public Safety will respond.

For more information, see http://deanofstudents.unc.edu/index.php/crisis-prevention-and-response-mainmenu-79.html.

What should faculty members do if someone threatens their class?
If you feel threatened in any way or if someone threatens to harm himself/herself or others in the class, call 911 for assistance immediately. Until help arrives, try to find a quiet place to speak with the person, but do not isolate yourself with that person.

Use a calm, non-confrontational tone and do not make physical contact with the person. Set clear limits regarding the behavior that needs to stop – for example, “I need you to lower your voice so we can talk.” Do not agree or argue with any distorted statements, and avoid defensiveness.

For more information, see http://deanofstudents.unc.edu/index.php/crisis-prevention-and-response-mainmenu-79.html.

Who can address concerns about a specific student? Do privacy laws limit what I can say?
Your first point of contact should be the Dean of Students Office, 966-4042. You can call at any time of the day or night, and the on-call staff member will put you in touch with the appropriate resource(s).

Federal privacy laws do not prevent you from sharing your concern about a student with the Dean of Students Office, Counseling and Psychological Services or the Office of University Counsel. 

For more information, see https://deanofstudents.unc.edu/responding-student-emergencies-and-crisis.

Who can help with concerns about a co-worker?
For any concerns about co-workers or about possible disputes between employees and management, you should contact Employee and Management Relations in the Office of Human Resources, 843-3444. See http://hr.unc.edu/employees/emr/?folderView=collapsed for more information.

You can also encourage the person to contact the Employee Assistance Program, (877) 314-5841 (24 hours a day), which offers help with personal problems. Click here for more information.

For confidential assistance in finding options to resolve workplace issues, problems or disputes, the University Ombuds Office, 843-8204, can help. See http://www.ombuds.unc.edu/ for more information.

What should I do if there is an explosion in a laboratory?
In any emergency, including a laboratory explosion, call 911 to reach the Department of Public Safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that individual laboratories have established safety plans, commonly referred to as the OSHA Laboratory Standard. This standard sets forth procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices capable of protecting employees from health hazards presented by the chemicals used in the laboratory.

The "Laboratory Safety Plan," which must be available to all employees in the lab, is divided into sections, each dealing with a particular aspect of laboratory safety. These include hazardous materials, radioactive materials, x-ray equipment, lasers, biological hazards, recombinant DNA, and the use of hazardous materials in animals.

You can find more information at http://www.ehs.unc.edu/ih/lab/lsp.shtml.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

A list of resources to help students is available at http://alertcarolina.unc.edu/go/doc/1395/184530/.

A list of resources to help faculty and staff is available at http://alertcarolina.unc.edu/go/doc/1395/184522/.

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