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Emergency Preparedness Plan


As a result of events at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007 (and other similar events on college campuses throughout the nation), it is imperative that Widener University students, staff, and faculty understand the procedures Widener University has in place and how we respond to and handle an emergency that occurs on campus.

The Campus Safety Department provides daily coverage of the Chester, Wilmington, and Harrisburg campuses. Widener’s Crisis Management Plan includes procedures to initiate a rapid response by university personnel and external emergency responders. The Crisis Management Plan is initiated in the event of a serious crime, emergency, or threatening situation. Widener University takes all incidents affecting the safety of our students, staff, and faculty seriously and will react immediately.

Providing a Safe Campus Environment

Widener University has devoted significant resources to providing a safe campus environment, while ensuring the safety of our community members. The Campus Safety Department consists of 81 officers on three campuses. Officers on the campuses of Chester and Wilmington provide on-campus coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Officers on the Harrisburg Campus are on duty during the time that the Law Library is open. Officers patrol on foot as well as by bicycle, T3, and four-wheel vehicles.

Campus Safety officers on the Chester Campus are identified under Pennsylvania Law as "special officers" with authority limited to the immediate and adjacent vicinity of university property; Chester officers have the power to detain and arrest. Campus Safety officers on the Wilmington and Harrisburg campuses are identified under the Pennsylvania and Delaware Code as proprietary agents of the university whose authority is limited to the immediate and adjacent vicinity of university property; Wilmington and Harrisburg Campus Safety officers do not have the authority to arrest.

Campus Safety maintains excellent relationships with respective local police departments (Chester Police Department, Delaware State Police, and Susquehanna Township Police Department).

All of Widener's officers receive mandatory on-the-job and in-service training and are instructed by the American Red Cross in first aid, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Widener University promotes that “Safety is a Shared Responsibility.” We encourage members of the campus community or any campus visitor to immediately report suspicious activity or emergency to the Campus Safety Department. If an emergency requires the assistance of an outside agency, the Campus Safety Department will contact the appropriate organization as the situation dictates.

You may report a crime to the Campus Safety Department on your campus using one of the following methods:

Chester Campus

In person: Old Main
Phone number: 610-499-4200
E-mail: [email protected]

Wilmington Campus

In person: Concord Hall
Phone number: 302-477-2202
E-mail: [email protected]

Harrisburg Campus

In person: Library
Phone number: 302-477-2202
E-mail: [email protected]

Widener University Crisis Response

When a serious incident occurs that causes an immediate threat to the campus, the first responders to the scene are usually the Campus Safety officers, local police or fire department, and emergency medical services. These groups work together to manage the incident. Depending on the nature of the incident, other Widener University departments and local government agencies could also respond to the incident.

Campus Safety should always be contacted in the event of an emergency or dangerous situation. Officers will respond to assess the situation and determine what internal and external emergency response is required. Individuals can contact Campus Safety using the phone numbers (listed above) for each campus.

If there is confirmation of an immediate or ongoing threat, significant emergency, or dangerous situation that poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of some or all members of the Widener community, the President’s Office, Campus Safety, and Public Relations will collaborate to determine the appropriate segment or segments of the campus community to receive notification. These offices will also determine the content of the message and if some or all of the emergency notification systems will be used to communicate the threat. They will then initiate the notification system, unless issuing a notification will, in the judgment of the first responders (i.e., Campus Safety, local police, fire, and/or emergency medical services) notification will compromise the efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency.

The university has the capability via the One Card System to control access to most buildings on campus. This is an access-control system, not a security system, but it can regulate what buildings cardholders may enter.

Emergency Communications

In the event of a serious incident that poses an immediate threat to members of the Widener community, the university has various systems in place for communicating information quickly. Some or all of these methods of communication may be activated in the event of an immediate threat to the Widener campus community.

University Communication Methods
  • or
  • Critical information is posted on the university’s home page and may be viewed both internally (students, faculty, and staff) and externally (parents, alumni, and other constituents).
  • Broadcast e-mails are sent to Widener students, faculty, and staff.
  • Broadcast voice mails are sent to staff and faculty and can be accessed both on and off campus through individual voice mail
  • An information telephone line is available to receive updates about emergency situations and school closings: Chester Campus (610-499-4600) and Wilmington Campus (302-477-2149).
e2Campus Alert
  • Important emergency alerts, notifications, and updates are sent to all registered devices, including cell phones and email accounts.
  • Widener community members may register for this service via the Widener website.
Computer Notification
  • Emergency messages scroll across computer screens when computers are logged into the university system.
  • Campus Safety officers or other university staff will post emergency information or timely warnings on university facilities and in public areas.
Personal Interaction and Connection
  • Campus Safety officers and other University staff can make personal contact with persons inside campus buildings.
  • Many buildings on campus have a designated facility coordinator who will assist in building evacuation and notification.
Lockdown/Shelter-in-Place Procedures

1. A lockdown/shelter-in-place notification may come from several sources, including Campus Safety officers, residence staff members, other university employees, or other university authority using the university’s emergency communication tools.

2. No matter where you are, basic steps to lockdown/shelter-in-place will generally remain the same. Should the need arise, follow these steps:

3. If you are inside, stay where you are. Collect any emergency shelter-in-place supplies and a telephone to be used in case of emergency. If you are outdoors, quickly proceed into the closest building or follow instructions from emergency personnel on the scene.

4. Locate a room to shelter-in-place. It should be

  • An interior room,
  • Above ground level,
  • Without windows or with the least number of windows.

5. Shut and lock all windows and doors.

6. Turn off air conditioners, heaters, and fans.

7. Close vents to ventilation systems if you are able.

8. Remain calm and silent.

9. Silence any noise producing devices (radios, TV’s, cell phones, etc.)

10. Make a list of the people in the room with you and ask someone to call the list into the Campus Safety Department so they know where you are sheltering

11. Await further instructions from emergency communications or the website.

12. Follow instructions of Campus Safety or law enforcement officers when you are rescued.

Timely Warning

Timely, campus-wide warnings are provided to heighten safety awareness and to notify students, faculty, and staff of crimes and other events that may represent a serious or ongoing threat to the campus community. Warnings may also seek information that may lead to the arrest and conviction of the offender when violent crimes against persons or substantial crimes against property are reported.

Campus Safety is responsible for issuing the timely warning when a crime is reported to or brought to the attention of the department or other campus security authorities, and when that crime represents a serious or ongoing threat to the safety of members of the university community. Information for the warnings may also come from other law enforcement authorities. Campus Safety will communicate with local police departments to ensure that the university receives immediate information. Every attempt will be made to issue the warning as soon as possible after the incident is reported to Campus Safety; however, release of information is subject to availability of facts. Timely warnings are initiated and/or approved by the Campus Safety and/or his or her designee and/or the combined efforts of the President and/or his or her designee, the Provost and/or his or her designee and/or the Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance and/or his or her designee and are distributed by the Campus Safety and/or his or her designee.

Campus Safety may prepare a timely warning whenever a report is received of a violent crime, substantial crime against property, or emergency situation on or near campus representing a serious or ongoing threat to the safety of students, faculty, and staff. Crimes for which a timely warning may be appropriate include, but are not limited to murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, motor vehicle theft, hate crimes, violations of liquor and drug laws, and illegal weapons possession.

Testing and Evaluations

Widener University routinely examines the Crisis Management Plan to ensure the university remains current with the best practices. The Executive Team, Crisis Response Team, and Campus Safety Department receive yearly training on crisis management and emergency preparedness. During these trainings, mock scenarios are created for the purpose of walking through different emergency situations that could occur and discussing potential outcomes. Members of emergency external agencies (police and fire) are also invited to attend these seminars. Trainings are scheduled at least once a year and are designed to assess and evaluate our emergency plans and capabilities. Communication technology is tested at least twice a year to ensure that it is in proper working order.

After an emergency situation has occurred, the Executive Team and members of the Crisis Response Team will meet to discuss the performance of the university during the crisis.

Building Evacuation

Life safety devices (e.g., fire alarms, sprinklers, etc.) or one of the methods of emergency communication already listed will alert Widener community members to evacuate a building in the event of a fire or other emergency. Each academic year, Widener community members participate in at least one evacuation drill where they are instructed to evacuate the building in a calm and orderly fashion.

Each university facility on campus has a pre-designated assembly location at which building occupants should assemble in the event of an evacuation. Campus assembly locations are listed as follows:

Chester Campus

Old Main: Memorial Field
University Center: Kapelski Lot
Howell, Hanna, Turrell, Grasselli, Thayer, Cann: Old Main Circle
ACN: Memorial Field
Hyatt Hall: Memorial Field
Muller Hall: Memorial Field
Founders Hall: Memorial Field
Moll, Kapelski, Sharples Hall: Memorial Field
Metropolitan Hall: Memorial Field
Student Health Center: Memorial Field
Alumni Auditorium: Memorial Field
Kapelski Learning Center/Lecture Hall: Memorial Field
Wolfgram Library: Memorial Field
Kirkbride Hall: Memorial Field
Walnut Street Properties: Kirkbride Lot
Dixon North & South: Library Circle
Boettner Hall: Library Circle
New Hall: Library Circle
Widener Court North & South: Library Circle
Quick Center: Kapelski Lot
Bruce & Cottee Hall: Kirkbride Lot
Lathem Hall: 411 Lot
501, 503, 505, 507, 509, 511: 411 Lot
520, 522, 526, 528, Hannum House: Theater Widener Lot
1238 Potter Street: 411 Lot
1300 Potter Street: 411 Lot
Castle: 411 Lot
Manor: 411 Lot
Lipka Hall: 411 Lot
1700 Walnut Street: Kirkbride Lot
1730 Walnut Street: Kirkbride Lot
2129 Providence Ave: Balin Lot
301 E. 19th Street: Kirkbride Lot
Child Development Center: Kirkbride Lot
Widener Partnership Charter School: Charter School Lot
Wellness Center: Baseball Field
Schwartz Athletic Center: Baseball Field

Wilmington Campus

Townhouses: Townhouse Lot
Concord Hall: Townhouse Lot
Shipley Hall: Townhouse Lot
Barristers Club: Concord Lot
Geesey House: Concord Lot
Bookstore: Concord Lot
Temporary Buildings: Concord Lot
Polishook Hall: Concord Lot
Passmore House: Townhouse Lot
Maintenance Building: Townhouse Lot
Law Building -3rd & 4th Floors: Townhouse Lot
Law Building -2nd Floor: Townhouse Lot

- Admissions: Townhouse Lot

- Student Affairs: Townhouse Lot

- Clinics: Townhouse Lot

Law Building - Library: Townhouse Lot
Law Building - Ground Floor: Townhouse Lot

Harrisburg Campus

Legal Information Center: Rear of the main parking lot
Student Activities Building: Rear of the main parking lot
Courtroom Annex: Rear of the main parking lot
Administration Building: Rear of the main parking lot

Emergency Plan Awareness

Information about the Emergency Preparedness Plan will be published at the start of each academic year and posted on the Widener University Campus Safety website. Additional information about timely warnings, emergency notifications, and building and campus evacuations can be found on the Widener University website and within the Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report published prior to October 1st each year.


Evacuation drills are coordinated by the Campus Safety Department and Office of the Fire Marshal for all residential and academic buildings on campus. All tests are documented by a Campus Safety administrator or the university fire marshal. A description of the exercise, the date, start and end times, and whether the test was announced or unannounced are included.

You may report a crime to the Campus Safety Department on your campus using one of the following methods:

Chester Campus

In person: Old Main
Phone number: 610-499-4200
E-mail: [email protected]

Wilmington Campus

In person: Concord Hall
Phone number: 302-477-2202
E-mail: [email protected]

Harrisburg Campus

In person: Library
Phone number: 302-477-2202
E-mail: [email protected]