Emergency procedures outlined at faculty assembly

by Katherine Burns / Beacon Staff • September 28, 2017

Professors raised questions about Emerson’s emergency preparedness at Tuesday’s faculty assembly. In light of a lockdown earlier this month, professors and other faculty expressed concerns about a lack of knowledge of standard practices for future incidents. 

Director of Emergency Management Chris Beaurpere presented Emerson’s standard protocol for disaster preparedness and opened the floor for questions and feedback from faculty.

Thomas Cooper, a professor in the visual and media arts department, asked what to do in a situation in which students were not allowed to have their phones on in class and therefore would be oblivious to any emergency alerts.

Beaurpere said the college is working to integrate Emerson’s alert system into the fire alarms, and also suggested that professors leave their phones’ sound on so that at least one person in a classroom could get the alerts. Arthur Mombourquette, senior associate vice president of real estate, said much of the process is automated in order to remove stress from those in the building with other roles.

“The lockdown is automated, you press a button and all the exterior doors lock,” Mombourquette said. “It takes the pressure off [faculty and staff].”

Various faculty said they were unsure of the difference between a lockdown and shelter in place, and did not know how to behave in either situation. Beaurpere said professors should follow the same protocol either way, and that the only difference was that during a lockdown, Emerson College Police Department automatically locks all doors on campus. 

President M. Lee Pelton spoke shortly after and said there would be further discussions around campus safety in the future. Pelton also talked about the possibility of global partnerships for Emerson, as he said the real estate market limits our ability to expand within the city of Boston. His long-term goal, he said, is to have a partnership with an institution in another country from which students could receive a joint degree with an integrated curriculum.

“Students from around the world could enter Emerson, matriculate and complete their degree, and take advantage of what is in those locales as well as here,”  Pelton said. “Now is the time for us to have that conversation.”

During the meeting, Linda Gallant was elected as vice chair of faculty council. Tim Riley, a journalism professor, stepped down as secretary of faculty council, and a replacement has yet to be found.