Creating Connections for Campus Safety

By Amy Henson

The Oregon Disaster Resilient Universities Network (DRU) is a network of over 1,600 campus emergency management professionals connected through a listserv hosted by the University of Oregon. DRU is one of the partners CPW is collaborating with to develop the National Emergency Management Needs Assessment. As part of the National Needs Assessment, sponsored by the National Center for Campus Public Safety (NCCPS), we had scoped a DRU summit to explore the results of our needs assessment survey and better understand issues that campus emergency management programs face.

NCCPS TeamIn fall 2015, as a response to the tragic events at Umpqua Community College, Governor Kate Brown established a campus safety workgroup with the charge to identify resource needs and potential state policy to enable a coordinated strategy across the higher education system, both public and private institutions. Governor Brown appointed Andre Le Duc, the UO’s Chief Resilience Officer, to chair the committee. As it turns out, Le Duc is also on the board of the NCCPS.

Since our work with NCCPS included a summit and the Governor’s Workgroup was in an information gathering phase, Le Duc proposed we combine the DRU summit with the Workgroup meeting. So, in conjunction with the University of Oregon Office of Emergency Management and Continuity, we took part in the planning and facilitation of the event. We were excited to be part of the statewide campus safety effort, especially since we had been working on the national needs assessment project, and agreed to participate!

The CPW team hosted the Summit and it went GREAT! The CPW team, as well as CSC faculty, worked as facilitators through the all-day summit. Due to the abundance of facilitators, we were able to effectively register the participants, hand out nametags, direct participants to tables, and begin forming relationships with our guests for the day. After an introduction of the day and a brief background of the participating organizations by Andre Le Duc, the agenda really got started.

We assigned participants to tables with practitioners from other departments and other schools. We did this to engage conversations that may not occur in their regular professional setting. In order to ensure that participants were engaged in the process, the facilitators sat at each table and started with some brainstorming questions before probing into more detail. It was also valuable to keep the tables the same through the day; each table had a sense of camaraderie with those who they sat next to. We also provided a very loose schedule with breaks and a full hour lunch which allowed fDRU Oregon Summitor casual conversation and networking. We  scheduled a burrito bar for lunch, to ensure positive attitudes would continue through the afternoon.

The day began with a presentation of the preliminary findings from a national needs assessment survey administered by our CPW team. In analyzing the findings, the team grouped the needs into four theme areas: institutional commitment, staffing, training & exercises, and plans & continuity. We used these themes throughout the day and through facilitated conversation were able to parse out the needs that all of Oregon’s campuses have, regardless of size, popular majors, or whether they are public or private. After the CPW team presented, we then welcomed speakers on the topics of preparedness, continuity, response, and recovery.

After each speaker, the participants took part in table discussions, facilitated by CSC/CPW team. Each participant received a worksheet to fill out, providing the opportunity to share thoughts in various manners. We wanted to ensure that no matter how people chose to express themselves, we would be able to cater to those styles. The facilitators allowed the table groups to discuss the various components of need in their universities, and stepped in only when the conversation drifted too far from the original topic, or if participants struggled to find the “jumping off” point of the conversation.

While there were some things I would definitely change in the day (it was seven hours, the conversations got a little redundant at the end, etc.), but overall, it was great day. The conversations that occurred and the relationships that were forged could not have been any better. I think that if we can continue to build on this work, Oregon and her students will have a safer and more prepared future. I look forward to continuing working with the work group through the rest of the summer.

Amy Henson
Amanda (Amy) Henson is a second year Master’s of Public Administration student, focusing in higher education administration and policy. She enjoys hot coffee, cold ice cream, and spontaneous weekend adventures.

Cool Water

By Kimberly Thomson

I was taking a quick shower Friday afternoon, having just returned from another week at Sun Pass Camp.  The week had been another tough one, just like the four before.  Scrubbing away the layers of pumice dust on my skin and hair, I started counting the mosquito bites, examining new bruises, and wishing it would be over. And like a shot of icy water, I suddenly realized this part of my life would be over, very soon in fact.  Somehow this detail had escaped me for long enough that I forgot it for a while.  As I was wondering on this topic my mind flipped back a few chapters to the start of my experience with RARE.


In early October I visited the Wood River with Aldo, Emmie, Sara, and Chantal on our first RARE family outing to Crater Lake.  My supervisor and friend, Jennifer, had recommended we check it out since it was on the way and promised a great sight of emerald green waters.  We pulled into Kimball State Park at the Wood River headwaters and got out to look around.  Passing a handful of kids on the path down to the water I said, “Hey kids, seen some cool water?”  The kids stared blankly back for a moment and then continued on their way with a wary look back for their parents.  I had been snubbed.  Although this moment became a RARE joke (thankfully one of many at this point) we continued on to see some spectacularly cool water and then some cool caves and cool craters and cool trees and just had an overall cool weekend.

Skipping ahead eight months, I’m shaking my head at the irony of spending the past four weeks talking to kids about that cool water.  The difference is that now, as a camp counselor, kids have to listen to me talk about the beaver and macro-invertebrates and habitat adaptations before going in.  And let me tell you, those kids are in love with that cool water, so it has become a very useful bribe for good behavior and general sanity.

In circling back to where I began, I saw how my life has been bookmarked by moments like this, when life gives you a nicely wrapped package of “see, look how much you’ve learned from this experience”. So with the new learning tucked into the corner of my mind I jumped out of the shower and rushed off to a meeting, reminding myself to e-mail Titus later to ask for a blog re-write.

I remembered and Titus said yes so without further ado here is what I have discovered as a RARE Year 22 Participant addressing the challenges of a rural community facing resource inefficiencies and inequities:

This is not enough.  What I am doing, what the program is doing, what the whole state and even the entire country is doing is not enough.  And I say that as a fact due to the magnitude of our collective challenges, not as a reflection of individual effort.  What I have seen from my fellow RARE participants over the past nine months has been nothing short of tremendous and I have enjoyed getting to know the communities they are working with through their experiences.  So I know I am not alone in thinking that there is still so much work to be done for any sense of overall community success to be felt.  My own community of Klamath Falls is no different.

But that is the reality of where we are today and where we all stand, looking though a tunneled vision at our futures.  Our political climate, our foreign agenda, the collective financial burden, and the percentage of our population living with staggeringly poor environmental and health conditions are placemats at our dining room table.  They frame what we are eating, how we are consuming, and what we are sharing so much so that it is now difficult to find someone who could send a postcard overseas saying, “Things are going super well for everyone here!  I don’t ever see problems in my community that could be easily addressed if people would just see it from my perspective!  Nor do I ever curse a state or federal policy that is ruining my life and I have definitely never gotten a headache from my last meeting with people that think differently from me.”  But here’s the good news; that is what everyone is going through.  Whether you are a staunch Republican, dedicated Liberal, or a proud member of the “Screw Them All” party, you know there is a lot of crap to work out.  I know it.  We all know it.

So what I realized while taking my weekly shower was that the time I have spent with Klamath Falls middle schoolers down at the cool water of the Wood River has made this point so incredibly more important.  The three-hundred-some kids, teachers, and chaperones that I have met through this camp know the issues better than most. I was not expecting to have so many children speak about the fears and pains of adults.  These children cried and chanted together in response to Trump v. Bernie debates while they drank lemonade and ate nachos during lunch. They asked me how at 26, I could seriously not have children because their parents and siblings all had kids before 19.  They shared in quiet voices that it was nice to be at camp, where they don’t have to share a trailer with their mom’s boyfriend and his six kids.  They asked me to spell words that were many years below their reading level and near half spent part of their mornings and evenings being administered some kind of medication.

I have heard about the five kids that have been homeless all year, living in a tent even during the winter, and the ten that have open CPS cases and the other six that couch surf with friends because no one is home to take care of the house or buy groceries.  Their teachers and chaperones, they have known all of this, how we are setting up a generation and our own futures for failure if we do not help to address these adult issues our children are already inheriting.  And these children made it clear that while we aren’t starting from scratch and we have infrastructure to support such efforts, it’s still not nearly enough.

So what’s the point in doing a program like RARE?  The point is to show up and try and learn as much as you can so that you can go on to help design a smarter future.  Your one project and eleven months will not be enough.  It’s what you will go on to do, with this experience imprinted on your path, that really matters.  These kids aren’t stupid. They have a keen sense of ingenuity, so let’s give them a societal design they can use.  I am sure they will start finding solutions we have never thought of.

So with all of the heaviness these thoughts have brought me, I have found great reassurance for our futures from the people I have met through this program.  I feel very fortunate to have been surrounded by the talent and intelligence Titus and Megan collected together this year and I am so anxious to see their remarkable accomplishments that lie ahead.  I want to thank each of them and all that have participated in the RARE experience for picking up a rake and working through a part of our collective future.  Know how important their work has been because those kids down there at the cool water, they need us, so much more than I thought.

Kimberly Thomson

Kim received her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her Master of Social Work from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at WashingtoIMG_4697n University in St. Louis. After attaining her degrees, Kim volunteered with the Yantalo Foundation in Peru where she researched, designed programs, and created programming to address topics such as family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual health, eating disorders, depression, and suicide. She then became a Family Case Manager for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, coordinating assistance provided to children and families. Now with RARE AmeriCorps – Resource Assistance for Rural Environments, Kim hopes to expand her skills in program development in rural communities while working in a region she wants to continue to live in and work in while sharpening her direction in life.