N.M. Tech Sends Sympathy to Northern Illinois University, Feb. 18, 2008

by Valerie Kimble

SOCORRO, N.M., Feb. 18, 2008 – New Mexico Tech joins other colleges and universities in mourning the deaths of the five students killed at Northern Illinois University, and in extending its sympathy to the family, friends and fellow students of the victims and those injured.

“It was with great sadness and sorrow that we learned of the tragedy, and we offer our deepest condolences to the families of the innocent victims,” said Tech President Dr. Daniel H. López.

“We join with others in mourning their deaths, and in extending our sincere wishes for the recovery of the injured,” López said.

The actions of a former student at the Northern Illinois University campus in Chicago last Thursday sent ripples of sympathy and trepidation across other campuses in the United States, López continued.

“We want to assure New Mexico Tech students that we have implemented a system to protect them, and to alert them in case of a campus-wide emergency, and to reassure parents of their safety,” he said.

In addition, the university asks that students experiencing sadness, anxiety, stress, or who otherwise have been traumatized over the events at Northern Illinois University, to please seek help from the Counseling and Disability Services Office at 835-5443.

In the wake of the calamitous shootings at Virginia Tech last April, universities across the nation were mobilized into ensuring that their own campuses had emergency plans in place. New Mexico Tech responded to a mandate from Gov. Bill Richardson for all state colleges and universities to develop such emergency plans, by forming its own Emergency Response Team (ERT).

The team, which meets regularly, is comprised of representatives from the administration, Campus Police, Residential Life, Counseling and Disability Services, Facilities Management, Information Services Division, Hazardous Waste and Safety, Public Information Office, Technical Services, Human Resources, Student Health, Academic Affairs and Auxiliary Services.

Lonnie Marquez, Vice President for Administration and Finance, is the ERT leader. Melissa Jaramillo, Assistant Vice President of Student and University Relations, serves as the Crisis Management Team coordinator.

“Our shared goal is twofold: to do everything we can to respond to an emergency in progress, and to educate the team on what to look for in possibly preventing or averting a potential crisis,” Marquez said.

López concurred. “Students and their personal safety and well-being remain our number-one priority,” he said.

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