Notre Dame mourns tragedy at Northern Illinois

Author: Arts and Letters


Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, expressed his condolences to Northern Illinois University after the murders of six students Thursday (Feb. 14).

“The prayers of the Notre Dame community are with our colleagues at Northern Illinois University, and all who have been personally touched by this senseless act,” Father Jenkins said. “We share in their pain and ask God’s grace on them in the wake of this tragedy.”

The University will remember the victims of the NIU shooting at a Mass this weekend during the annual Junior Parents Weekend.

In light of the events at NIU, and to ease possible apprehension, Father Jenkins also provided an update on efforts Notre Dame is making to respond to such crises.

For more than a year, he noted, University officials have been working to improve the campus emergency response plan, efforts that were redoubled last April after the shooting at Virginia Tech. He and some 50 other Notre Dame administrators engaged in two days of table-top training on the plan last semester and will continue to receive training on a regular basis.

“The safety of our students, faculty and staff is of the utmost importance,” Father Jenkins said, “but the sad reality is that there are no guarantees against mayhem or disaster – man-made or natural. We have plans, policies and procedures in place that enable us to promptly notify the campus community in the event of an emergency and to minimize the effects, and we will continue to enhance and implement these plans to help make our campus as safe as possible.”

Components of Notre Dame’s emergency preparedness plan include:

*A new comprehensive emergency notification system that can quickly send a message to registered student, faculty and staff home and office telephones, cell phones (text and voice-mail), University e-mail accounts and any additional personal e-mail accounts as provided. The University strongly encourages anyone who has not registered to do so at the Inside ND site on the Web, under the My Resources tab. The system has been tested twice in the past three months, providing the University with opportunities to find ways to improve the process.
*A Web site – – that is active full time, offering detailed information on campus emergency procedures and, in the event of an emergency, providing status updates and news.
*Emergency warning capability via the University’s cable television system, allowing officials to break into regular programming on campus televisions to broadcast warnings and other information.
*The Notre Dame Security Police Department includes more than two-dozen full-time sworn police officers who are fully trained and certified by the state of Indiana. They are assisted by some 35 specially trained security officers. The University also has a full-time fire department and risk management experts.
*Forty-eight blue light emergency call boxes, located throughout the campus.
*Swipe cards, which are required for entry to all residence halls.

“The strong traditions of community, caring and residential life at Notre Dame – and at any campus – are our greatest bulwarks against the despair and anger that seems to drive people to violence,” Father Jenkins added. “As the NIU campus unites to heal from this tragedy, I encourage everyone in our community to reach out to friends, classmates, fellow residents or others and let them know there is someone who cares about them and there are people on this campus to whom they can turn for help. Love and caring are our best defense.”

Originally published by Dennis Brown at on February 15, 2008.