U.S. bomb threats heighten EOC awareness
On Friday, the university’s Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) canceled an annual luncheon with volunteer faculty and staff with the Emergency Response Team (ERT).
In the wake of the attacks in Libya and Egypt and the bomb threats at various schools in the U.S., members of the ERT were kept in the dark about the strange mobilization of emergency personnel. Some faculty and staff even speculated about a possible bomb threat in either the Malibu campus or International Programs sites.
The ERT meets once or twice a year, and the fall luncheon is considered a timely event to discuss disaster details with Pepperdine’s first responders. Instead, the EOC met separate from volunteers to discuss how the university would respond to a bomb threat if one were to happen at a Pepperdine campus.
Lauren Cosentino, associate vice president of Human Resources in the Office of Insurance and Risk, told the Graphic that “in an abundance of caution,” EOC leaders reminded the EOC group that while most bomb threats do not involve any explosives, it was necessary to prepare for potential threats.
“There have been at least 4 confirmed bomb threats made against universities in the United States in the last week in addition to the unrest overseas,” Cosentino said. “We communicated with International Programs Dean Charles Hall and all of the IP directors and our Washington, D.C., program and asked them to advise all of our Seaver students traveling abroad to take extra precautions and be aware of the increased risk.
“Additionally, we verified where our Seaver students were traveling to last weekend and ensured that they were safe. Provost [Darryl] Tippens communicated with all of the graduate school deans regarding all of the travel plans of our graduate students, faculty and staff. Our Chief Business Officer was in contact with the directors of each of our graduate campuses.”
The EOC chairs also advised the group to review campus operators and Public Safety Dispatch protocols for handling a potential bomb threat call. They also contacted law enforcement and intelligence at the federal and local levels about the bomb threats at other universities and threat risk overseas.
“One of the great things about Pepperdine is that we have the highest levels of leadership who take these matters seriously and in a proactive manner to ensure Pepperdine is as prepared as possible for a variety of emergencies — be it man-made or natural disasters,” Cosentino wrote to the Graphic.
On Monday, Pepperdine’s Emergency Information site posted the first update since January about emergency activity.
“CURRENTLY ALL UNIVERSITY OPERATIONS ARE NORMAL,” the post read. “The EOC is monitoring the unfolding situation overseas and the incidents at the University of Texas, North Dakota State and Louisiana State University. The University is taking appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of the Pepperdine community.”
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