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Presidential Memo | A Message Concerning the Public Health Crisis of Gun Violence

May 26, 2022
A-Message-from-the-President - FORSTEIN

Presidential Memo | A Message Concerning the Public Health Crisis of Gun Violence

[May 26, 2022]

To the RVU Community:

As the President of RVU, I struggle to always know when to speak up about events in the news. I hear from members of our community after nearly every major happening; sometimes they want me to reach out and sometimes they don’t. Recently, I have been tempted to write on a number of issues that are important to me and to many members of our university.  I hesitate, and often demure from public statements, cognizant of the fact that within our university, there are a myriad of opinions about the politics of the day.  Nonetheless, I cannot remain silent about the mass murders in Texas that took place in recent days, as well as those in Buffalo a few days prior.  While the details concerning the motives of the murderer in Texas remain unknown as I write this, there can be no denying that places that should be safe havens - like schools - tragically no longer feel safe.  Combined with the evil motives of the recent mass murders in Buffalo, we have moved past accepting this as something solved by thoughts and prayers.  There is no denying that thoughts and prayers are powerful and important at a time like this, but this is a time for action.

As a university, we have acted and will continue to act in ways that make us safer.  Earlier today, you received an email message written by Andrew Stevens, Manager of Campus Security, and Karen Robinson, Mental Health and Wellness Therapist, describing how you can access mental health support, and some practical steps to campus security that is within all of our responsibilities.  In addition to the special training and vigilance that our security team undertakes, along with the cooperation of local law enforcement agencies, I want you to know that we take our collective safety very seriously and will continue to act in the best interests of RVU students, staff, and faculty.  We have provided a cell phone-based panic button available to everyone. This past year, our security teams in Colorado and Utah held required active shooter training consisting of videos and discussions. In the coming year we will conduct simulated active shooter drills, which, much like fire drills, have become a necessity for institutional spaces and can save lives by providing the needed practice to run, hide, and fight should any of us every find ourselves in an active shooter situation.  In addition, we will provide “Stop the Bleed” training, which is offered at institutions of all kinds, so that should any of us face a mass casualty situation, we will have had some training that could provide aid to those in need.  “Stop the Bleed” training is not just for medical personnel; it is designed for anyone to learn how to provide basic first aid in an emergency.  This training will be open to all.

The political solutions available to us are less immediately actionable and vary across the political spectrum.  I urge you to write to your elected representatives at the federal and state level to express your opinions.  Let them know clearly and directly what you expect of them.  Vote for candidates who will represent your views on issues important to you, including the public health crisis of gun violence.

Finally, the leadership at RVU believes that any idea could be a great idea, and we want to hear from you. Please reach out to your supervisor, the student affairs deans, your deans and program directors, or directly to me.

The actions that our community has taken and will take are in an effort to keep us safe should this horrific circumstance happen here. We further want to empower every member of our community to speak, to propose steps, to create ideas and plans to change the circumstances that allow for these events.

The following resources are available to all faculty and students:

MENTAL HEALTH & WELLNESS RESOURCES

  • RVU Students and their Household: Free and confidential mental health support is available to all RVU students and their household members. For 24/7 in-the-moment support, call WellConnect at 866-640-4777. For all other resources, visit rvu.edu/mentalhealth
  • RVU Faculty and Staff: Please remember that if you need help, your EAP offers counseling, coaching, and online self-help resources including help for grief and loss. Login to theEAP.com/Higher-Education-EAPor call 800.252.4555.

SAFETY & SECURITY

  • Colorado: 720-875-2892
  • Utah: (435) 222-1300
  • Download the RAVE Panic Button app Android / iPhone - Quickly alert Safety & Security during a life threatening incident anywhere on RVU campuses.

CONCERNED ABOUT A STUDENT?

  • Call WellConnect 24/7 at 866-640-4777 to consult with a licensed mental health clinician about how to help a student get connected to resources.
  • Contact Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson, Associate Dean for Student Affairs afarmerhanson@rvu.edu or Dr. David McCoy, dmccoy@rvu.edu Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Advising.

Take care of yourself and each other, and be well,

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