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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Western plans for future incidents after threat

An independent report found Western’s handling and investigation of the racially charged threats to be “comprehensive, complete and in compliance with law enforcement best practices,” according to a Western Today report.

The threat was made on Yik Yak, an anonymous social media app, and targeted Associated  Students President Belina Seare. Based off concerns regarding safety for students of color on campus, President Bruce Shepard cancelled classes on Nov 24.

The Western Front reached out to Seare for comment, but did not receive a response.

John Vinson, the University of Washington’s chief of police, was hired by Western to conduct and file a review of the safety plans implemented by University Police and the timeliness of the university’s response, according to the full report. The report made a total of eight recommendations pertaining to how Western handled the events following the threat before and through the Thanksgiving break.

Communications director Paul Cocke said in an email that the review from an outside consultant was requested by student leadership.

The report found that generally the “University acted appropriately,” on the information available at the time. In his report, Vinson commended Shepard’s leadership in a time of crisis.

Following the threat, Shepard attended two threat assessment review meetings, the report said.

In the report, Vinson mentioned a lack of senior leadership during the time of the threat, referencing that vice presidents and other leaders at Western were away at an event. The report indicated the timing of Thanksgiving break was also mentioned as a potential reason for the delay.

Areas where Western could improve

In the report, Vinson recommended there be a protocol for any instance when vice presidents are not available, according to the report. The report added that Western should establish a specific policies for the threat assessment team moving forward.

Western’s response noted they plan to create a place and time for students to express concerns. Western will take a “bias response approach” and specify a leader to handle “broader community concerns,” according to the management response document.

In their response, administration went on to ensure additional leadership will be trained and appointed to handle future incidents. Plans are being made to hiring a victim advocate for those needing support after any incident by the end of spring quarter 2016, according to the administration’s response.

The student conduct code is currently in review and suggestions from feedback on how it can be improved is welcomed, Cocke’s email said.

Western issued a response to each recommendation, indicating ways they are planning to treat future incidents such as training additional leaders for victims, incidents, and students. The University has provided rudimentary timelines for their responses, the majority occurring in summer 2016, according to the management response document.

“Western will [make] use of lessons learned and recommendations of the consultant’s report to improve going forward,” Cocke said in the email. “The University, in all its operations is always looking for ways to improve.”
The full report, as well as Western’s response, can be found in Western’s response and full report.   





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