The effects of a shooting spree perpetrated by an Uber driver Feb. 20 in Kalamazoo made news worldwide. With the coverage of the tragedy spreading, some are concerned as to why Western Michigan University, which is located in the city of Kalamazoo, did not issue a campus wide alert the night of the shooting spree, while Kalamazoo College did. The incident was covered heavily on social media sites as well as spread by word of mouth as the tragedy unfolded.
WMU President John Dunn acknowledged that while the school was not legally obligated to alert students, he wishes they had.
Under federal law, the Clery Act requires schools to inform students of situations that could bring them harm. The Clery Act was signed in 1990 and requires all universities that receive federal aid to inform students of crimes on and near campuses. The law got its namesake after Jeanne Clery, who was murdered and raped at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1986.
According to the Clery Center for Security on Campus, “Institutions have ongoing reporting obligations. When an incident occurs, they must determine if a timely warning or emergency notification must be disseminated to the campus community.”
Grand Rapids Community College issued a campus wide alert during the 2011 shooting spree involving Rodrick Dantzler, who led police on a high speed pursuit through downtown Grand Rapids passing close to the campus.
“We put out a timely warning to our students and staff to say that Grand Rapids Police are investigating this incident involved with the shootings,” said GRCC Police Chief Rebecca Whitman. “We provided the name and description of the subject.Our thought was that we can reach 15,000 people that might know this person or might know where he is.”