In the Event of an Emergency on Campus

By Rachel Gobep

Youngstown State University has revised its Campus Emergency Management Plan to form an institutional strategy to prepare the university to respond during and after a major emergency.

It also provides suggestions for the campus community to assist them in preparing for and surviving emergencies.

According to the YSU website, an emergency is defined as: “Any event or condition that presents an imminent risk of death, serious injury or illness to the university community, suspension or significant disruption of university operations, significant physical or environmental damage or significant threat to the university’s financial wellbeing.”

The website also states the purpose of CEMP is to “maximize human safety and survival, minimize danger, preserve and protect property and critical infrastructure, provide for responsible communications with the university community and the public during and after an emergency and restore normal activities.”

Shawn Varso, chief of police for YSU, said the old plan did not go into detail regarding who had the authority to declare an emergency, the differences between a lockdown and shelter and the role of the YSU police and plans for campus evacuation.

“The revisions to the plan go into greater detail about those subjects plus additional information on the way the university would communicate in a crisis,” he said.

Varso said he believes this will increase campus safety.

“[It clarifies] the role of the university, its divisions and its leadership during a crisis situation,” he said.

Varso said his best advice to the campus community to be ready for a campus emergency such as an active shooter is preparation, and he said it is worth it to attend ALICE active shooter response training that is offered at the university.

ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.

“Preparation also means making yourself aware of the exits and stairwells in your buildings,” Varso said. “Make a plan for yourself, which way you would go in case of an active shooter or another emergency like a fire.”

Additionally, he said if an active shooter situation occurs that people should focus on themselves.

“If you can get out of the area, get out. If you are outside the area, stay away,” he said. “If you cannot evacuate, find a room that can be locked or barricaded. Turn out the lights, and silence your phone.”

Varso said police will respond immediately to any active shooter situation and to remain in the shelter until police arrive.

Ron Cole, director of communications at YSU, said the university always closely monitors the best practices in emergency communications and response.

“[We are] constantly revising and upgrading our plans to ensure our readiness in the event of a crisis on campus,” Cole said.

If an emergency situation occurs, the campus community will receive notifications via text message or through their YSU email with the Penguin Alert system.

Becky Rose, assistant director of communications at YSU, said the notifications will include instructions on what to do.

“In case of an ongoing situation, the Penguin Alert system as well as the University’s website and social media accounts will be used to share updates and instructions as needed,” she said.

Varso said WYSU and other local media would also broadcast information during a campus emergency.

To sign up to be notified by Penguin Alert system by text message, login to MyYSU and click on the YSU Alert graphic.

For more information on the emergency management plan go to