In response to student security concerns following the school closures on Tuesday, October 1 through Sunday, October 6, Marymount Manhattan College sent an email releasing a Fact Sheet on October 6 providing answers to the questions that many students and faculty had been asking. The email also announced a series of Student Open Forums to encourage a campus dialogue.
The first Student Open Forum took place on Monday, October 7 from 5:20 – 6:30pm in the Commons. President Kerry Walk fielded student questions and lead an open discussion about the events that transpired, student reactions, and the current safety measures surrounding the school. Present at the forum was Graham Giraulo, Vice President of institutional advancement, Katie Belfi, Emergency management crisis consultant, Carol Jackson, Vice President of student affairs, as well as about a dozen other faculty members and about twice as many students.
In regards to the events, Walk reiterated that although the NYPD did not deem the threats credible, Marymount considered school closure necessary. When asked why the school didn’t close immediately after the phone calls were made, Giraulo stated that they, “Did not want to give him any more power,” the same reason as to why they did not initially disclose the nature of the threats. Walk stated that now, the campus is in what is considered “high alert” and is working on implementing temporary and permanent security measures to the campus.
At the forum, many of the students in attendance expressed their gratitude for the chance to communicate directly with those involved in the decision to close the campus and improve security. Action was called for lockdown drill practices as well as the use of the PA system that Marymount did in fact purchase last year. In regards to many of the student suggestions for safety measures, Walk said, “We always knew that our students would be ambassadors in this effort.” Students attending the forum voiced their different experiences with active shooters and violent threats, while students of color raised the concerns of possible gun violence and racial profiling with the presence of an armed guard. A quick survey of the room conducted by Kerry Walk showed that half the room felt uncomfortable with the presence of an armed guard near campus.
Walk encouraged students to continue speaking up in their concerns and suggestions for campus safety through her email or the suggestion box found on the website.