Motivated by March Lockdown, Students Form Emergency Management Club


Kaitlyn Tambasco, Assistant News Editor

Utica College has taken measures to improve safety procedures and regulations after a student’s anonymous threats caused a campus-wide lockdown.

The circumstances have also led to the creation of a new club on campus called the Utica College Emergency Management Club.

Austen Givens, assistant professor of cybersecurity, played an important role in getting the club off the ground. He explained that he and three students, Joel Kaigler, Cody Cowles and Dan Wilcox, came up with the idea shortly after the lockdown.

“They had an idea to form a student organization focused on providing education and training in emergency management, as well as delivering actual emergency response capabilities in the event of an incident on campus,” Givens said. “I also shared with them that I would not be able to serve as their primary faculty advisor, but that I would be happy for them to list me as a secondary faculty advisor.”

Although Givens praised the new club, he did express his concern for the possibility of crossing boundaries with other organizations and offices on campus already participating in the emergency management process.

“We may each have distinct roles to play, but in the final analysis, we are all on the same team and share similar safety-orientated goals for Utica College,” Givens said. “However, I think raising awareness around emergency management, as well as offering basic education and training in emergency management, will add a lot of value to the college community.”

On Sept. 6, the Emergency Management Club held an informational meeting for anyone who was interested in joining. The meeting had a large turnout with a variety of students from all majors and of all ages.

Senior and club president Cody Cowles reiterated that the main reason the club was started was because of the lockdown that occured on March 5.

“It bothered me that some students and faculty did not know what to do during a lockdown situation,” Cowles said. “We wanted to create a club that would prepare students and faculty for any emergency situation that they may face.”

Cowles emphasized that although one of the main goals of the club is to assist the emergency management director in making UC a safer community, members are students first.

“Just by being a member of the club will look good on a resume,” Cowles said. “However, we don’t want people to think that they have to be put in harm’s way.”

Cowles explained that the club wants to hold training sessions to help prepare the Utica College community for a variety of situations. The group would also like to take field trips to places such as the New York State Emergency Management Center in Albany and the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany.

“The club is good for anyone no matter what your major,” Cowels said. “Your major could be animal behavior and something could still happen [on campus].”

Dan Wilcox, vice president of the club, also felt there were a lot of students and faculty members that were not prepared for the lockdown last semester. Wilcox also referred to the collapsing of the dome in March 2017 as an emergency situation.

“Personal safety is also important,” Wilcox said. “If you get hurt or even killed during an emergency situation, what help are you going to be for someone else? We want to respond to emergencies and help people. I think just by doing that we can make a better and safer community.”

Shad Crowe, UC’s new emergency director, will serve as the faculty advisor for the club and was also present at the first meeting.

Crowe said aside from emergencies such as an active shooter situation, weather-related emergencies can happen as well.

“The college has done a wonderful job with emergency preparedness so far,” Crowe said. “This club will definitely add to that.”

Crowe added that he would love the group to assist in building inspections and get a hands on look at the world around them regarding emergency management.

Joel Kaigler, the group’s webmaster, and Malina Rivera, the club’s treasurer, also had a hand in the planning process.

Both Kaigler and Rivera agreed that one of the main goals of the club is to not only include students but also faculty and staff.

“During the lockdown last semester, I had heard that some professors kept on teaching while it was going on,” Rivera said. “That could be them saying that they didn’t know what to do, and that’s a problem.”

Kaigler noted that the group’s planned emergency trainings will be open to all faculty and staff. At the same time, both Kaigler and Rivera agreed that there should be a campus-wide active shooter training held for students, especially since one was held for faculty in the past.

Emergency Management Club will meet Mondays at 4 p.m in FAC 101 and is open to all interested students, faculty and staff.