As Northern Kentucky University students, faculty and staff reeled from the news of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, top administration personnel began discussing plans on how best to handle the sensitive situation.
University President James Votruba said the university’s focus will be in three areas. First, making clear to students and their families that this is a safe environment. Second, helping students process and learn from these events. Third, making sure students feel secure and there is no backlash directed at any student, not only from within but also from outside the campus.
“We’re being sensitive to the fact that we have a large international student population,” Votruba said. “We want to make sure that as things unfold, and nationally, if people start pointing fingers, that those fingers aren’t directed at students from other countries.”
At 12:58 p.m. Votruba issued an e-mail to the entire university encouraging everyone to take the opportunity to create “teachable moments.” He stated the campus would remain open and all precautions were being taken to ensure safety. He also requested faculty and administrative supervisors to not penalize students and staff who choose to leave campus.
Campus security, administrators, staff and physical plant employees were asked to be on alert to things that may look out of context. Also, the bookstore is making sure all students keep backpacks on them and not leave them unattended.
“To be honest,” Votruba said, “we don’t know what to expect and we want to be prepared.”
Several meetings were arranged on campus to help students deal with the situation, but most of the student issues will be dealt with in the classrooms. Votruba believes students need a chance to interact with each other and with faculty in normal classroom settings.
“This is an up-close and personal campus,” he said, “and I think it ought to be an up-close and personal environment we create to deal with this.”