The University of Nebraska at Kearney campus was shaken up on February 17th around 11:30 pm when the UNK alert system sent out a message notifying the public that a male subject reported to police that he had a loaded firearm and was going to shoot himself on campus. All community members were asked to stay off campus and individuals on campus were to stay inside a secure area. The UNK alert system notified the public around 2:30 am that law enforcement agencies checked all buildings across campus and no armed individual was located. Individuals were allowed to return to normal activities. Kelly Bartling, the UNK Assistant Vice Chancellor for Communications and Community Relations said classes would continue as scheduled.
Events like this make students more cautious and aware of their surroundings. Many questioned their safety and some classes were poorly attended. Journalism Professor Tereca Diffenderfer said she received emails from students saying they would not be attending class because they were worried about their safety and some commented that they felt uneasy about walking by the emergency phone located outside the library where the male subject called in.
This is a good opportunity to remind students of the many services offered to them by the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The college offers services ranging from healthcare, counseling, safe walk services, free self-defense classes, and many safety presentations. Many students do not utilize these services, even though they are included in their student fees.
Counseling Care is a mental health clinic on campus that offers confidential personal counseling to students. Students enrolled in seven or more credits a semester already pay for the counseling service in their student fees. Anyone enrolled in fewer credits can pay the fee to receive the services. Part of the Counseling and Health Care Department is The Women’s Center. The center employs health care professionals who receive crisis intervention specialty training through Kearney’s relationship violence and domestic abuse shelter, the SAFE Center. The center provides resources and support to women who need help.
Safe Walk is a program where students who feel unsafe walking alone at night can call in and request an escort from any location within two blocks of campus to a safe building. The services are available from 9pm-1am or later if needed.
Safety education and training are offered on campus at different times of the year. Self-defense classes are offered for free to students at different times during the year. Campus police officers give presentations on abuse, drugs and alcohol, date rape, and other serious issues. These presentations are meant to inform students and encourage them to seek help or report any problems to health care and counseling professionals or police.
The health and safety of students and employees is a priority for the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Students need to be aware of the services provided to them by UNK and not be too ashamed or embarrassed to seek help when needed.