Welcome to Homecoming: Safety first edition

Homecoming Week always brings people to campus, and because we now enjoy the benefits of a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, we are free to celebrate in a way we could not last year. We are issuing this Friday communication together, so we can both extend our congratulations to so many of our alumni who are being honored this week and our heartfelt welcome to alumni, families and friends visiting campus during homecoming; and so we can both weigh in on the important topic of safety.

In order for a community to accomplish the important work of learning, creativity and research, all members of that community need to feel safe. This communication highlights some of the tools we have to keep NMSU safe and shares a new effort to keep our safety practices and protocols current.

The NMSU Las Cruces campus is one of the safest university campuses in the country, partly because it has its own police and fire departments; these professionals are on the front line in keeping our community safe. Anyone on campus with concerns for their immediate safety should call 911. These calls are handled by NMSU’s Emergency Dispatch Center, and NMSU Police have an average response time for priority calls of less than 1 minute and 11 seconds. Our Fire Department has a response time for NMSU calls of 4 minutes 43 seconds, which represents the time between receiving the call and having a fully suited and staffed team at your door. Many universities rely on external police and fire departments. We do not because safety is that important.

Our first responders also communicate to campus about ongoing threats and emergencies. These notices are required by the Clery Act, and we take this obligation very seriously. Many campus members likely recall notices of threats to campus that we have issued in the past. These go to everyone with emergency contact information on record. Now is a good time to verify that your emergency contact information is correct.

After 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions, Zoom sessions, and a lack of social interactions, we know tensions are high, not just in our community but across the country. We can all help the community by just being observant. If you see something that doesn’t look right, please report it to the NMSU Police Department. We can count on them to collaborate as needed with the Doña Ana County District Attorney’s Office, the FBI and other agencies to ensure our community is as safe as possible. We also maintain a website for reporting concerns.

Other groups are also dedicated to making our campus a safe place:

  • Conduct Assessment/Response and Education Team (CARE; online reporting form): Their charge is to identify and respond to students, faculty, or staff who may harm themselves or others on campus or who may simply be struggling and in need of assistance and resources.
  • Central Administration Response Team: CART makes decisions and carries out directives relating to disasters, emergencies, and recovery management. For example, a special CART for the Las Cruces Campus has met weekly during the pandemic to ensure that the central administration can respond to COVID-19 related issues.

Although we plan extensively for emergencies, we can always improve. We know that information can always be more accessible, and we are committed to making it so. To accomplish this, we will be charging a group of faculty, staff, and students to review our safety practices and protocols to help NMSU’s first responders keep our communities safe.

But for this weekend, we encourage all of you to enjoy Homecoming. On Saturday, let’s start by watching the Homecoming Parade on University Avenue, starting at 10 a.m. We will also honor the 1971 Class of Golden Aggies and celebrate Ag Day from 2 to 6 p.m. in the parking lots south of the Pan American Center and northeast of the Aggie Memorial Stadium. Aggie Football will take on the University of Hawaii at 6 p.m., and we hope you will all join us. Have a safe Homecoming Weekend!

We welcome feedback at chancellor.arvizu@nmsu.edu and president.floros@nmsu.edu.

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