By Shannon Paris
With the Spring semester in full swing, making sure students are educated and prepared for inclement weather and campus emergency procedures are important. Sophomore Daryanne Heard said that she was not aware of the emergency response plans in place in case of a natural disaster.
“Teachers always went over that at the beginning of the year when I was in high school,” Heard said, “But since starting college, I can’t think of one class that has done that now that I think of it.”
All students have classes in multiple buildings across campus, not to mention individual student life that goes on in Rogers Student Center and in the dorms.
The thought of a power outage or facility failure, such as the busted plumbing issue in Rogers Student Center two weeks ago which shut down the cafeteria for a solid day, may only seem like concerns for students who live on campus.
In the case of tornadoes, fire, or inclement weather closings, all students could be affected by these very real threats to personal safety.
Most students know to evacuate each building in a calm manner if a fire alarm sounds and not to reenter those buildings until the threat has been cleared by emergency services.
The school and the dorms run fire drills randomly according to the request of the City of Tyler Fire Marshall’s office. However, most people; staff and students alike, do not seem to know the school’s policies regarding tornadoes or fire.
“I am not aware of any direct policy TJC, as a whole, has for a tornado” said Art Professor Derrick White, “But in the Art Department, we have come up with our own plan where the kids would be evacuated into the Ceramics class which is located in the basement of the Art wing here in Jenkins. That room has no windows and is the safest location for our department.”
In other buildings, such as Potter Hall, there was no such plan in place, and the many windows and exposed hallways have caused safety concerns in such an event. TJC does offer email and text alerts to students for emergency situations, but only a few students use both functions.
“I signed up to receive email alerts, but I didn’t realize that there was a text alert system also,” said freshman Jessica Willis who lives off campus. “Texts would be a lot better because I would receive them so much faster. I don’t usually check my school email daily.”
In the case of school closures due to inclement weather, Dean of Students, Dr. Dometrius Hill could not give a direct contact person for making that decision but did say that it would depend on the weather situation as to who would be in charge of that final decision.
In the case of icy or winter weather closures, it would most likely be deferred to either Dr. Juan Mejia, VP of Student Affairs or Chief Randy Melton, director of campus police. Another consideration is the decision Tyler Independent School District makes on the matter.
“TJC is very closely intertwined with TISD operating schedules in cases of inclement weather due to the amount of dual credit and work study students we have on campus,” said Dean Hill.
For those students living on campus, announcements of school closures are sent out to each RA and building supervisor to dispense among the residents.
Email and text message alerts go out to all students along with alerts sent to area news stations for local broadcasting over television.
In cases of fire emergencies, Dean Hill suggested sounding the internal building fire alarms, evacuating the building quickly and calmly, and contacting Campus Police immediately.
For more information on the emergency procedures and plans of action, go online to http://www.tjc.edu/info/2003978/campus_police_and_parking/267/emergency_procedures
Students can manage their TJC Alert Notification account which will include text and email notices by logging into Apache Access at http://apacheaccess.tjc.edu
Campus Police can be reached at 903-510-2222 for all emergencies and is located at the corner of Baxter and Lake Street. For all non-emergencies, call 903-510-2258.
In case of any major medical emergency, students are always advised to contact 9-1-1 for emergency services and then contact campus police.