Ferguson decision impacts STLCC campus closures

Posted on 03 December 2014 by admin

All STLCC campuses close after Ferguson decision

ferguson student voiceBY: SPENCER GLEASON

Following the Nov. 24 public announcement not to indict former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, STLCC administration opted to close all campuses and facilities on Tuesday, Nov. 25 and Wednesday, Nov. 26.

STLCC originally was to remain open until Thanksgiving Day.

“There were talks prior to this — leading up to it — as there were everywhere,” STLCC-Meramec Vice President of Student Affairs Kim Fitzgerald said. “Our [STLCC] police chiefs attended a safety meeting over at Washington University, about several days prior for colleges and universities to identify the protocol, what to do, how to handle it.”

Fitzgerald said she was not part of the administrative decision to close, but District Wide Police Chief Mark Potratz was.

“There had to be a concern among all the schools and their public safety officials and their administrators as to what types of things could happen,” Potratz said. “We have to consider a wide range of possibilities across a whole spectrum.”

Students and faculty were notified by an STLCC text message at 9:39 p.m. on Nov. 24. Emails were also sent out, a message was posted on the STLCC website, as well as local media posting all school closings.

Fitzgerald said she knew of the closing 14 minutes before students were notified.

“I got a call from Meramec President Pam McIntyre that evening at 9:25 p.m.,” Fitzgerald said. “I text messaged all of my staff at 9:31 p.m. Eight minutes after I let [my staff] know, the college let all the students know.”

Potratz said that Meramec sent police help to the STLCC-Florissant Valley campus. All of the STLCC campuses offered counseling help, as well.

“When you have a particular need and you do not have enough people to meet that need,” Potratz said, “then you try to use personnel from other areas to try and meet that need.”

With the unexpected days off, Fitzgerald said that instructors and students had to adjust class assignments and ensue finals week preparation.

Although Thanksgiving Break was given an extra couple days, Fitzgerald said that she is thankful STLCC students and faculty remained safe.

“I think we take the safety of our students seriously. The beauty of a college campus is that it sparks conversations and gets people talking,” Fitzgerald said.

But, this was a unique situation, she said.

“It’s got many layers of issues — political, social, racial. The entire thing,” Fitzgerald said. “It was kind of upsetting to see these things unfold, so I think that I am glad that they made the decision before everybody went to bed and we got the message out to students.”

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