New strain affecting basketball games

Written Question

For President Szymanski

Given the evidence of the new strain and the demographics on infections with young people why are we continuing basketball games?

Answered by President Szymanski, UNF President

Dr. Szymanski answered that the university is being very careful. He noted that they had an athlete test positive recently, and they canceled the subsequent game. He shared that they have a robust set of guidelines to ensure safety, from CDC and NCAA/Sun, but they are erring on the side of caution to ensure that students are safe.


COVID Testing and Notifications

Written Question

About COVID testing and notifications, discussion about notifications for negative test results has been ongoing and noted as improved, but (faculty member) has herself experienced irregularities in hearing back about negatives, as well as lapses in secure/personal responses.

Answered by Bob Greenlaw, Emergency Manager

Our notification did run into some delays in the last few weeks due to not getting results from the lab. We found out the delays were from the “middle man” we were using. We have negotiated getting our results directly from the lab and should elimiate those delays for the next semester. Obviously the notifications won’t be necessary for who taking the 15 minute results test.

We continue and will continue to make notifications to students and employees of both positive and negative test results. In the Spring, we will be offering both the 48 hour PCR tests we have been plus 15 minute Antigen testing on campus. Both tests are nasal swabs.

Face Shields

Question asked from the floor by Dr. John White, FA President:

Just clarifying if we heard that face shield alone was ok on UNF campus without a mask? There is evidence that face shields are not meant to function as primary respiratory protection and should not be used alone.

Answered from the floor by Dr. Daniel Moon, Professor – Academic Affairs Administration:

Dr. Moon affirmed the earlier answer that face shields without masks is an acceptable health choice for faculty. He also added that wearing a cloth face mask under the shield is an individual choice and is acceptable.

Answered from the floor by Dr. Simon Rhodes, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs:

that if one is walking around campus, then a face mask/covering, not only a face shield.

Answered from the floor by Dr. Curt Lox, Dean – BCH

that a face mask is a way to cover a face and that a face shield leaves one’s face open, so that face mask is acceptable to use alone when one is not standing near others.


Building 1 security

Questioner: multiple sources

Question posed to Dr. David Szymanski, UNF President

Building 1 Questions

(Amalgamated Questions about the new Bldg. One security measures)

  1. What exactly are the new security measures for Bldg. One? I have heard that not only will there be a police officer at the single point of entry, but that one must have ID, one must be escorted to and from the office that one is visiting, and one must have a scheduled appointment to even be considered for entry.
  2. How are students to visit the Graduate School? Or faculty the Office of Faculty Enhancement or, if OFE is being moved elsewhere, the Office of Community Based Learning?
  3. Why does the president believe this security is necessary? It is the very opposite of having an “open door policy.”
  4. Are the new security measures friendly toward those with mobility issues? This seems not the case since the access between Bldg. Four and Bldg. Ten is cut off.  One must take the elevator in Bldg. Four down and then cross over to Bldg. Ten and HOPE that the frequently broken elevator in Ten is working – or travel a much further distance to Bldg. 42 and deal with more doors and inclines.
  5. The provost’s note to faculty about the new security measures for the second floor of Bldg. One cites a range of measures that were taken in large part for the security of our students, faculty, and staff. This seems not to be the case with the new Bldg. One measures.  Whose safety and security is improved by this addition?
  6. Although classrooms have security lock down devices, faculty offices do not, neither do the main administrative offices for the departments. Does this then mean our safety is less of concern than that of the president’s? Why should anyone who works at UNF receive less protection than do the administrators in building 1?
  7. Was any analysis done to see how this impacts the metrics?  I would say making the home of the President a fortress sends a message that he needs protection from a group of angry _______________ (fill in the blank).  Not good for recruitment of top students. Why should I send my child to a university where the President appears to be afraid of people walking into the administration building?
  8. How many other SUS campuses have such security?
  9. Will any nonresidents of the floor be given fast passes?
  10. How much will this new security cost? How can we justify this cost to the University when faculty salaries are so low and there is no money for raises?
  11. Are the new security measures a precursor to some action or actions that the president is about to take that require him to be safe from angry faculty? Such as a massive reorganization that could have faculty employment repercussions?
  12. Your [the Provost’s] message to the faculty said the Bldg. 1 security policy was a result of recommendations from the Crisis Management Team (CMT). Where can one get access to the minutes of the CMT meetings?

Questions answered from the floor by Dr. Szymanski, UNF President

So each of you should have the questions in front of you, so there’s one we’ll talk about in terms of strategic planning and then the rest we’re going to talk about safety, because safety is a priority here on campus. As Dr. Taylor’s talking, it’s the other part of the wellbeing. Part of it is where everybody can feel safe. I don’t think we’ve done a good job. I know we haven’t done a good job of getting the word out in terms of all the things that we’re doing to make sure that all our constituencies are equally safe.

So the first question is a strategy question; it says the UNF strategic plan makes bold promises to make UNF unique, but it reads rather as it is a marketing gimmick—that’s pretty good because I’m a marketing professor—without any clear pathways to achieving those promises. Does the president understand how empty it truly is?

So this…I’m not sure who’s asking the question, so I have to figure out how to educate. There’s two things. We were asked to present a strategic plan, create a strategic plan, present it before the Board of Governors. We presented the strategic plan for the Board of Governors. There’s a difference between an operational plan and a strategic plan and there’s a difference between sort of a general operating plan and an annual operating plan. So the question that the person is asking is where is the annual operating plan? And that’s not what we presented and that’s not what we posted. So what we’re going to do, and that’s where we’ve, the provost and I have, been talking. It’s really how to create these committees and how to create these different groups so that we begin to develop the operating plan and that’s the next step in the process. So it’s a reasonable next step in the process. We weren’t asked, and we don’t mix up the strategic plan with an annual operating plan, so that’s the answer to the question.

The person who asked the question, I’d be happy to talk to them more about it so I can help them understand what an operating plan is and what a strategic plan is. I’d love to have that person on the committee, whoever that might be, as we move forward so that we do the things in the right way. Any questions, comments? I’m happy to answer a question. I know that it’s all anonymous but anybody unclear about that? So just as a reminder, the strategic plan was approved with enthusiasm by the Board of Governors, and that’s a pretty big deal for us. And I think we underestimate, and I just want to go back because I get, I won’t talk too, too long, but maybe I will, uh, about all the good things that are happening.

So Simon mentioned some really phenomenal things that are happening to this institution. These are things where people said we couldn’t do, that we couldn’t do this. When I came here, I looked at the faculty, I looked at our students, I looked at our staff and I looked at our campus. I knew these are things we could do, which is increase the graduation rate, for one. We were at 33.8% in the summer of ’18. Again, Simon mentioned that we’ll be a 44.6 at the end of this year with the goal of being 50% by the end of next year. So that’s a phenomenal increase. And that’s something that we’re talking about because those are things that we didn’t do well. [inaudible.] And then we talk about retention, we talked about how the programs—we have 40 steps to increase graduation and it involved everybody. And then we talked about retention; when we weren’t on the charts, we got zero points every time. And because we were able to improve by a couple percentage points, we’ll at least get four points this time around. And, you know, it’s not really about the metrics, because that’s what we should be doing. So I can tell you about points at the end of this. But if we’re an academic body, an academic institution, and we have a passion for what we do, this is what we do. We want students to graduate. We want students to come. And by the way, we have the most diverse student body ever, and that’s pretty cool stuff.

Yesterday, we had—my wife and I had an opportunity to go see these students where English is a second language and what a phenomenal, phenomenal group of people. Students who have courage,  students who are persevering, students who want to succeed, and a faculty and teachers who really, really, really care. I heard the best response from a student I’ve ever heard before in my whole life. So we had these questions and the questions were, you know, what do you take with you every time you travel? So I gave sort of my answer to that and then the student has to— then you get to ask the student the same thing. There’s this young man from Brazil—Colombia and so he’s kind of a little hesitant, he goes, I take two things with me. He said everywhere I travel I take two things. He said, I take kindness with me because if you’re kind other people will be kind to you too. People will be nice to you and you will be nice to them. The other thing he takes with him, he takes open-mindedness because you then get to explore and you get to speak with people and you get to be with kind people.

If you think we’re not making an impact and there’s not a difference and there’s not students who are also difference-makers, I think you’re wrong, ’cause there’s really pretty cool stuff. Now I don’t know, he looked pretty young. I don’t know. He looked like he was 15 to me, but he was probably 18, 19, 20, and he had the most thoughtful answer I’ve ever heard. So when we talk about who we are as an institution, it’s making it a better place for people like that. It’s for our students, it’s for our faculty.

And so we start talking about security, you know, there’s a long list of things. We had this Board of Trustees meeting, we had a long list of things that we’re doing. Some that you do see, and some that you don’t see. You don’t see the bollards that are placed around campus to make sure that people aren’t driving up on the sidewalks and killing our students. You see the security measures in the library in terms of security measures to get in. You see maybe, but maybe not, but you hear reported back out what we did with command center after we had the rifle incident that was a fake report. Then we always knew, the institution knew that was a point of vulnerability, so we increased communication, we increased staff. You know, we’re also talking about—so you can go to the last page [PowerPoint slide] for this, it’s OK; I present this so that it gets put on the Faculty Association website. So you can see all the things that we’re doing, but you’re also taking time training, which is really critical. So we know that you value safety.

You know, when we talk about all these institutions and things that are happening, there are real threats out there today in terms of your safety, my safety, our safety, the community safety. And so you have, so far we’ve had 300 faculty and 700 employees do run, hide, fight training. We also have locks in the classroom. So rumor has it we didn’t have locks in some of the classrooms. We do now. It’s there to protect you. It’s there to protect students. We have locks in the classroom should something happen. We also have a building—one of the buildings had no, well, had an interesting locking system. You actually had to go out in the hall, lock your door, and then get back in your office and then close it, and now it would be locked. That wasn’t really good. So we changed that, too, to make it safe. And really when I do all these jam sessions. So it’s about communicating to the faculty, but it’s also about sitting down with the faculty and interacting. We talk about the safety issue.

We’ll talk a little bit about what we did for Building 1 in terms of things that we needed to do. And I told you why. And I’ll tell the rest of you why who don’t come to the jam sessions. So there are really safety concerns that we have to be aware of. And in some cases, the things that we’re doing will impact you; sometimes it’ll impact somebody else; and sometimes it’ll impact you and somebody else; and sometimes they’ll impact everybody, but it’s about safety. You can’t do what you want to do here if you think it’s an unsafe campus. And it’s a journey, you know, I don’t know what the next thing is that we need to do always, you know, and it’s partly that we need your help. We need your support. When I met with the deans back in the fall, I asked them to tell me what they needed in their college, ’cause I don’t know. You know, I don’t know what people have and where people are vulnerable and things that might happen, you know, but we have to be prepared and so it’s not that we create sort of a stifling environment, but it’s important that there is the precautions that we need.

The next thing we’re going to do is we’re going to do an audit with respect to cameras around campus. We have some cameras around campus, and they’ve probably popped up here and there and some of them are effective and some of them aren’t. We’re going to hire people to think about where we strategically need to place cameras so that people are safe, people can be monitored. It’s interesting, and we don’t really want to talk about all the things that go on here because it’s too public, but those cameras have come in pretty handy, the ones that we do have, at different points in time and sometimes it’s real time. It’s not just go to the tapes, it’s real time. When you’re trying to find somebody on campus, when the cops are trying to find someone on campus, and there’s an incident that happened and so it is about safety.

And so we have a visitor protocol and attendant and really this is what these questions are about and if you did go to some of the jam sessions, we talked about that this one is about staff. Who’s going to be impacted. And I asked the same question for each one of your colleges, your departments, your buildings, you name it. It’s about staff. So there’s questions in here that says the president is scared. Pretty sure I’m not a scared [?] person. Do I care about my people? Absolutely. Do I want to make sure that everybody who’s a mother goes back to their children? Yes. There’s things that happen that we don’t talk about; you don’t make it public. When you go back to your office some days and you see your staff literally shaking for an hour, on multiple occasions, you just don’t say, oh, it’s a good day, it’s OK. We need to do something. We need to do something to make them safe. And it’s not just that. There’s a long list, and it’s everybody in this room. It’s your responsibility also to let me know what those measures need to be. But I can tell you after about the tenth time in one semester, you know, we’re going to have to take some measures and do some things that are different. It doesn’t preclude anybody from coming in. It’s the same system—anybody go into a building in the city? You usually have to report. There’s somebody at a desk, and they ask who you’re here to see, they call somebody and somebody comes and gets you and you go see that person.

In other buildings, particularly if you want to see somebody who’s a public official, now there is a metal detector. In other places they’re going to take your picture. Why did they do that? Because they’re scared? Or do they want to create a safe environment? So the things that we do, I wake up every day thinking about how we’re going to make this a better campus, a safer campus.   As we go through even our strategic plan in terms of the master plan, an explicit consideration is where are the safety concerns. Some of the paths don’t look safe, some of them have bends around them, you know, the roads aren’t wide enough. Somebody could get hurt, somebody could get killed. So that’s what we do. At the end of the day, it’s my responsibility because I’m pretty sure I just read a newspaper article on Monday in the Wall Street Journal, and it said something about killings at a university, and the only person quoted was the president of the University of West Virginia. I don’t want that.

So every day we wake up trying and make sure we don’t have that headline. And a good day for me is there is no headline that says something happened at UNF. Will something happen? I hope not. Will we take measures and precautions, use reasonable judgment? Absolutely. Do I worry about your safety every day? Absolutely. Some people might push back and they’ll ask questions and, you know, do it in a kind of a rude, disrespectful way. And that’s OK, ’cause I know that you’re safe. I know that you have a spouse you go home to, I don’t want to make those calls if something happened on our campus.

And so I’ll read the questions and I’ll let you know the answers. I put them in front of you so that there’s no confusion. So I figured you all can read. So this is not an uplifting kind of presentation, but it’s a reality presentation.

If you look at number three, it says, I’ve heard that not only there will be a police officer at the single point of entry, which is not a police officer, but it is staff. You have to bring your ID. That’s true ’cause I can’t get in unless I scan my ID. You might be escorted to and from the office. That’s true. And you must have a scheduled appointment to even be considered. Not so, but they’re going to ask you who you want to see. ’Cause if you think about my suite, so just this is just an example. We’ve gone through lots of things and this was probably, I talked about this for four or five months. One time I’m meeting with the deans, and [inaudible] I’m telling the deans, here’s what we’re going to do and here’s why. One of the deans goes, you might want to look over your shoulder right now ’cause there’s two people trying to force their way, themselves into your  office—your staff is trying to handle it. That was after hours, you know, and it’s usually for different kinds of reasons and sometimes it’s just people off the street, you know, that you have to Baker Act, that you don’t even know who they are.

And so when we do this, the answer is yes, this is kind of how it is. It’s OK. It’s really not that much of an inconvenience. You sit down, somebody announces you and somebody comes and gets you. How special are you because they come and get you so you [inaudible].

Question five and seven were really about why is this necessary and whose safety and security is actually improved by this addition?

It’s your colleagues, your fellow staff members whose safety is being improved by this. So it’s pretty important.

Students can visit from the graduate school. We haven’t had any issues with this. So question number four, can they visit? The answer is yes. You just tell them where you want to go and somebody comes to you and then it’s OK. That’s the way it is.

Are there new security measures friendly towards those with mobility issues? And that’s a really good question. The gentleman who sits at the front, if anybody has had the opportunity to meet  the gentleman, Cori, who sits at the front. Cori’s phenomenal. He’s an 18-year veteran of the Marine Corps, two tours of duty in Iraq, and the nicest person you ever want to meet. When you talk to Cori, said, Cori, what happens if something like that happens. He goes, you know there’s rules and reason, and I’m a reasonable person and, yes, we will allow you to go through, we will help you. It’s not meant to be sort of dictatorial, but there is an accountability. And he said, sure, it’s fine. And if anybody here has a negative thing to say about Cori, then you don’t really appreciate America [?]. This guy is really [inaudible] in terms of who he is and what he’s about.

Number eight is a real point of concern for me, question number eight. Although classrooms have security lockdown devices, faculty offices do not. Neither do the main administrative offices for departments. If that’s so, how many of you don’t have a lock? I’m really concerned. Does anybody not have a lock? On their office? [Someone in the audience answers inaudibly without a microphone.] OK. Then you need to tell Scott, because we’ll fix that. We’re going to get planned operations [?] on it immediately. So, so right now when people are here, there’s several of you have people rambling through your offices? So that’s not good. [Engages audience member.] What building is that? [Audience members responds inaudibly.] This is not what it says. It says faculty offices do not. I’m asking. So I don’t think you still answered the question; it says faculty offices do not have security lockdown devices. What does that mean? But I’ve never seen it. So that’s the clincher. [Audience member explains what they mean by lockdown devices and attempts to illustrate their point.] I know I don’t have that. So people have offices where they actually sit down and you can lock your office remotely? [Audience member explains that some lecture halls have this feature.] And that makes sense, right? OK. It just seems that, you know what they’re saying is that safety is less [inaudible]. We’ll look into it. I’m not putting you as the point person.

OK, so question number nine [Question 7 in Q&A]. Was any analysis done to see how this impacts the metrics? I would say making the home of the president a fortress sends a message that it needs protection from our group of angry, fill in the blank. Not good for recruitment of top students. Why should I send my child to university with a president appears to be afraid of people walking into the administration building? So it’s kind of an interesting question.

So I guess I would turn it around. Would you want to send your child to the university where the president does not care about security, does not care about the safety of people? If the fact that you actually have to be announced is that deciding factor, I don’t think a deciding factor, but it could be. There’s something to be said, but I don’t think that. I mean, I would beg to differ. If it’s Virginia Tech and we’re talking about Virginia Tech and Alabama, Huntsville, and [inaudible] and we’re talking about the University of West Virginia, I don’t think [inaudible] you’re trying to create a safe campus, I’m not sending my child here. What we’re going to be doing, what we’re going to be promoting is a healthy, safe campus. The measures that are being taken are to make this a safe campus for everyone. So we’ll be doing that.

Do other SUS campuses have such security? Yes.

Will any non-residents of the floor be given fast passes? No, it just makes it fair and easy for everybody else.

How much does this cost? It doesn’t cost much. How much is safety worth? It’s one individual who sits at the desk. We contracted with an outside entity, so that’s not even as expensive as it might be.

And question number 13, I have no idea what this means: are the new security measures a precursor to some action or actions that the president is about to take that require him to be safe from angry faculty? First of all, it’s a sad testament if everybody thinks you’re angry. Such as a massive reorganization that could have costly employment repercussions. I’m not exactly sure how you this new security does that, so I have no answer for that. The answer is no, I don’t even understand what the question means, but obviously there could be some sort of Armageddon coming as a result, but I don’t know.

And then the provost message to the faculty talking about the crisis management team, where can one get access to the minutes of the crisis management team meetings and I don’t have any idea. You know, it’s really the crisis management meeting are people who get together and [inaudible], I’m not sure that there are minutes to the meetings. What we do is we take safety measures, and we’ll continue to take safety measures. We’ll continue to think about how we can make sure that everybody’s safe. We started talking about wellbeing. We’re talking about a totality of well-being.

You know, I know this is a minority of faculty in terms of questions, it’s 1.83% of the faculty, it’s that 1-2% of the faculty that we’re willing to address here in a very public forum, the rest of you I think fully understand given the fact that we’ve had [inaudible] attend training. I truly, truly understand the importance of faculty to campus safety. I understand that this is not a trivial issue today. It’s not going to be tomorrow. But if we can have a safe campus, we can have a happy and healthy campus [inaudible]. With that, does anybody have any questions? I know it’s not a—upbeat kind of thing. But, we’re going to win our basketball game today. So you all should go.

Follow-up Questions from the Floor (without microphone, verbatim where possible, summarized elsewhere)

Dr. Hochwald: in each of the incidents you mention, none includes situations affecting a president’s office; so what is the significance of the comparison here?

Dr. Szymanski answered: So Scott, let me help you a little bit. I didn’t say this is going to be there; I said we would do this everywhere. And so when I’ve been talking to people, I’ve been asking them, so you tell me where you need security. Do I worry about Hicks Hall? And the frustrations that students have? I do every day. Do you worry about even Alumni Hall where people can get in off the highway? Absolutely. Do I worry about your suites? And you have to tell me what those look like. Absolutely. Because your frontline person is not a trained individual. And so what can we do? What do we need to do? What precautions can we take? And so that’s why I’ve asked everybody to go through and think about this. ’Cause I don’t know, I don’t sit in your office, right?

Dr. Hochwald: [inaudible, no microphone]

Dr. Szymanski: Yeah. So let me, let me, so it’s not that this might—you know, because the questions are around this event, but everybody knows there’s a president’s office, and while you say no president’s gotten killed yet.

Dr Hochwald: I’m just saying the incidents have happened in places other than in a president’s office,

Dr. Szymanski: I’m going to tell you you don’t know the incidents that happen in the president’s office. People know where the president’s office is. They don’t know where the provost’s office is. They don’t know where the [inaudible] office is. They come, and they come regularly. And, again some of them aren’t even our students. They’re just off the streets. So we haven’t gotten killed yet. Does UPD think it’s a high probability? They do. It’s just a matter of time. You know, but my wife wants me to come home every night.

Dr. Hochwald: [inaudible, no microphone]

Dr. Szymanski: That’s a whole ’nother issue that we need to talk about. Just saying and let me tell you a little story. When people get disgruntled with their departments, where do they go? [inaudible]. It’s not a me versus you, so you [inaudible]. It’s talking about a general audit, they ask questions about this specifically. It truly is a general audit. If you don’t have locks in your offices, then we would change that. If you don’t have security and [inaudible] vulnerable, [inaudible]. And our campus is the same way, and as we’re doing the master plan we’re going through and making sure that pathways and lighting [inaudible] things like that, making sure we don’t have dead spots … so it’s comprehensive. Again it sort of [inaudible] my office, but it’s not because of me. It’s a general policy that’s [inaudible] over the past 4-5 months, making sure people have an opportunity to [inaudible].

Dr. Hamadi: Not every building and not every classroom will have the same security measure as somewhere else, and that’s understandable, but the lack of communication for what the planning will look like hasn’t been helpful. What will this mastery plan security look like? We all want security, but what is the security for the overall campus? [Lack of apparent transparency]

Dr. Szymanski: We’re just going through the master plan that’s being developed now, in terms of the physical facilities; that’ll be presented next week. If it gets approved, then that’s an initiative we can look at. Part of my initiative is to think about cameras and [inaudible] so we just contacted a firm to do that audit. Once that happens, [inaudible]. I think the other part of it, which I [inaudible] and I’m not throwing anyone under the bus, is that each college should form a committee [inaudible] … then we begin to sort of develop this manual. JSO also goes through buildings.  JSO does it kind of as a favor for us, and they do a safety audit of all the buildings [inaudible] last semester so that’s part of it too in terms of safety. So I think there’s a huge opportunity for individual units to begin talking about safety. What are some safety measures that can be taken?

Dr. Hamadi: Faculty are not experts on safety, so how can they help in these ways?

Dr. Szymanski [paraphrased due to far mic]: Safety has not been a front-and-center issue until recently, but they have taken advantage of individuals with experience to structure thought and structure programming. Following the false report of the rifle incident, a team was put together that helped us audit what happened and offer useful suggestions. So I think it’s a process that we haven’t started. It hasn’t been a priority, and we’ve done things, and we have more to do. Our command center setup is phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal, in terms of how we respond to a situation. So I don’t have all the answers, but what we’re doing now is we’re truly—this what, month 20 for me—this is part of what we have to do. It hasn’t been part of the overt strategic direction, so it is now. And the police force knows it.

Dr. Haraldsen: I’ had a number of students who have complained about close to physically but definitely verbally harassed by preachers and hate groups that come on to campus. I know that there’s free speech and everything, but my understanding is that once it goes into that harassment stage that UPD can step in. Do you know if UPD are monitoring these people when they come on to campus?

Dr. Szymanski: This is an exhausting issue for everybody. It’s frustrating for the students. It’s frustrating for administration. It’s frustrating for UPD.  Right now, there’s nobody who’s really crossed that true harassment line. I think that’s sort of how this works, though I’m not the expert. We have general counsel, we have all the general counsels in the state system asking these questions [inaudible] task force around, you know, what can we do …  [inaudible]. It’s a major, major concern for us in the state of Florida …  [inaudible]. People are expending a ton of energy trying to figure out what [inaudible]. I wish there was.

Dr. Rhodes offered:  Jason, the police are monitoring. All right? And they’re monitoring, so UPD and Student Affairs leadership and so on are monitoring it every minute. But it’s not easy.

Dr. Malcolm: What’s the threshold for harassment?

Dr. Rhodes: My threshold is that nothing like that is acceptable. The threshold appears to be set by Florida and so these folks video significant percentage of this, if not all of it. And so the chief has actually recently been sending snippets of that to the state prosecutors and asking your question.

Campus Safety

Questioner: Anonymous 

Posed to: Frank Mackesy, Chief of Police 

Q. 1a
On February 11th around 6PM a call was made to the police about an armed individual in the arena parking garage on UNF’s campus. Many faculty, staff, and students were not notified about this incident via the Safe Ospreys system until 7 PM. Instead, many found out about the incident via the television and the Spinnaker’s article that was published around 6:22 PM. If there was a credible threat on campus, it only takes a minute or two for the situation to be threatening to those in the vicinity of the report, but in this case, it took more than 20 minutes for information to get out. What is the university doing to ensure that faculty, staff, and students are immediately notified about initial reports of potentially hazardous situations? What metrics are being audited to ensure that when an emergency notification is sent it is delivered in a timely fashion?

Q. 1b
On Feb. 11, First Coast News reported a possible armed individual in garage 38 and heavy police presence at 6:20pm. It looks like their report was based on a Twitter account – tweeted at 6:02pm.  I just got a message at 7pm from the university. Earlier in the day we got a message about possible stolen shoes and sunglasses from a residence hall room. What is the protocol for getting important information out to the university community?


Q. 1c

It has been several weeks since the failure to notify the campus community of the threat of a person with a gun in the arena garage. The only thing we’ve heard is that there was a technology problem. The campus community deserves to know exactly what happened, who is responsible, and what has changed. We are notified when the alert system is tested. We are notified when a student is missing shoes from a dorm room. Someone failed during what could have been a tragedy. When will we find out what actually happened, who is responsible, and changes being made?


Response from the floor: Response from Frank Mackesy, Chief of Police

A. Hi, everybody, I’m Frank Mackesy, and I’m your chief of police. I know some of you, some of you I’ve had the opportunity to meet and I just want to thank you for the opportunity to come talk to you today talking, because this is something that has kept me awake since February 11, because the safety and security of you and our students and our staff is very, very important to me and the men and women of UPD. So just to give you a synopsis of what happened, we received a phone call, you know, right around five to six (5:55pm) saying that there was a person in a green shirt, Hispanic or white male armed with a rifle.

That call took a minute and 18 seconds and the call was dispatched to UPD personnel within 20 seconds. Within a minute and 30, 35 seconds, I had three officers at the garage armed with rifles searching for someone. Now what I would like to share with you is this: over half of the officers that work for the UPD are retired JSO officers, so they have a lot of experience in dealing with things like. Immediately upon arrival they started deploying personnel. Now, folks, on a fully solid night with nobody sick or nobody off, we have five people. We got lucky this particular day. It happened around 10 minutes to six, shift change is happening, so I had like eight or nine officers, and officers that weren’t on duty yet self deployed without their ballistic shields and their rifles,  only armed with handguns in an effort to go to contact with what could have been a shooter.

So remember now within a minute 38 seconds, we had three to four officers there. Then within the next few minutes we had that place covered up. The problem we had there was people were going to their cars. People were trying to get in the garage. The officers who have all this experience, most of them on the scene have 25, 30 years’ experience immediately recognize this could be possibly be a hoax. OK. The reason for that is this, there were no other calls by anybody else that there was somebody on campus in that garage with a gun. The other part of that was when we were attempting to call the complainant back—so, folks, it’s easy to sit here and try and have an appreciation; until you’ve lived it, you can’t. It’s the fog of war; it’s controlled chaos. So the dispatch center here, who usually just gets calls to come unlock your doors because you’re always losing your keys, the dispatch center here is getting covered up. In a 35-to-40-minute period, we had 346 calls to that com center while they were trying to dispatch officers, make sure they did the emergency alerts, make sure that the officers here were getting information from the complainant, things of that nature.


Every time we called the complainant back after the original call, except for once, she hung up on us. So now we have an uncooperative complainant and we also have no one else in this university environment calling us to say that there’s somebody with a gun. So immediately they’re thinking it’s a hoax, but, folks, in our business, we don’t assume it’s a hoax. We call it a hoax when we’re done. Eight entrances and exits, four floors, we got the sheriff’s office coming. I mean the cavalry’s rolling out. I know you might have difficulty believing me when I say this to you right now, but you were never in any danger. But that doesn’t mean you weren’t scared, and I apologize for that. Because what happened is in the fog of war, my dispatcher in the dispatch center created a message to tell you to stay away from Garage 38 and if you were going to Garage 38 to find some place else to go and shelter in place until we finished searching Garage 38, and he pushed the button for email instead of text messaging. That’s what happened.


Now the messaging that was conducted in that heat of the war—again, folks, I want to remind you had at any time we thought you were in any danger the protocol was 180 degrees difference to what we follow, but nevertheless it scared people. Now we’re not here to scare you. We’re here to try to do the best we can to make you feel more comfortable in a situation that is going to scare you. At 6:11pm, that button was pushed. The reason it was pushed at 6:11 is, well, first of all, if you expect your police department to beat social media on this campus toreport, anything that’s happening, you’re always going to be mad at me because I can’t beat ’em. I can’t beat them. It’s absolutely impossible. The question said that there was a, uh, they saw a 6:02 Twitter. We had a student standing there tweeting it live on their cell phone while we’re searching the garage. The reason we didn’t want people going to Garage 38 is because the officers are amped up to and they’re carrying. Many of you may not know this, but we’re armed with an AR-15—that’s a long gun. It’s a semiautomatic mode and if you have a rifle that you’re going against, the best defense is another rifle. And believe it or not, the rifle is safer and more accurate than this handgun. So they’re searching and all these people are walking up on ’em, so this is how it goes down. I almost brought the audio clip for you, but I didn’t know if it was appropriate or not. This is how it goes down in police talk. One sergeant says to the other: “sergeant So-and-so, do you think we ought to ask them to keep people away from the garage?” “Yes.” “HQ 10.26.” That’s how long that conversation lasted. HQ10.26 is, did you hear what we said and do you copy?


I have laid awake at night long before this event occurred worrying about your safety and trying to make sure that we’re equipped. Now I could give you reasons and unless you specifically ask me to, I don’t want to because it’ll sound like excuses. I accept full responsibility for what happened to the other night. I want you to know I had measures in place to protect against human failures, but I guess I didn’t do it <inaudible>.


So the answer to the question about what is being done now. The day after this event occurred, nine o’clock the next morning—I went to sleep about three o’clock that morning, woke up about 4:30, my mind racing—I met with a group of the senior leadership from the university and the president of the university on what we call in our business a hotwash. Whenever we do something like this, we always critique ourselves, because, folks, I’m here to tell you my standard is excellence, but I know that I’m never going to achieve it because I’ve been doing this now for 39 years. I was with the sheriff’s office in a very high position where I was at the scene of 200 officer-involved shootings and many, many, many, many, many more SWAT call-outs, and I can tell you after every incident of there’s something you can do better. If we don’t continue to strive to do better, we’re going to get complacent and when we get complacent, that’s when innocent people get hurt. When I was in the police academy, they told me one day I might have to do violence on your behalf against the bad guy. They never once ever told me that I might have to be involved in hurting a good guy, and I won’t start now. I’m an alumnus here, I have a BBA and an MBA from UNF. The reason why I’m here is because I love this university, and the last thing I want to do is anything that tarnishes its brand or its reputation. I was successful in my career—if you measure that kind of thing—because of my education.


Now, what is being done going forward? We have an outside consultant who is looking at com, center dispatch, police dispatch center procedures. The question talked about metrics. We don’t have a lot of metrics in what we do. You don’t want to count arrests or tickets or anything like that. I’m not a proponent of that. But we do have standards—we are a fully accredited law enforcement agency, and we have standards that we are measured against, and we are doing a hotwash of our standards based upon performance, based upon what the best practices require.


I’m not offering any excuses, but what I will tell you is this: I’m happy that you were safe that night.. I’m not happy that some of you may be angry with us because you were scared. But from my perspective I’d rather you be safe and mad at me than unsafe and not mad at me. But know this: it is not my intention to ever make you angry. This is community policing 101. We care about you, folks. Officers have bad days. Dispatchers have bad days, but we are working to fix this as much as we can through enhanced technology. Look, the dispatcher was just trained in December once again how to use the system. It’s the first time in the history of the university police department that this type of alert was sent out and it happened on my lucky Irish watch. So I hope that answers your questions. I want you to know that I absolutely believe that the report that comes out that is going to be shared with everybody, it is a public record, we have nothing to hide. And I believe if you mess up, you dress up, and you ’fess up. And that’s what’s what we need to do.

Skateboard, Bikes and golfcarts

Question asked from the floor

I just watched a minor accident when a student on her bike passed a golf cart and the cart driver made a left turn without signaling. No one got hurt but the student had to step down from her bike. Increasing number of skateboards, bikes and golf carts are crisscrossing our sidewalks with good speeds; that should get some attention.


Answered by Mackesy Francis, Director of Safety and Security

UPD does enforcement of skateboard violations on a regular and routine basis.  We handle both on our own and in response to complaints.  This is a problem area that UPD takes seriously and will continue to work as time permits.
P.S.  do you have a number I can call you on this morning?