Mason Alert – ROTC Training Exercise Update
Posted: September 26, 2016 at 11:21 am
On Thursday, the university sent out an alert about a potential threat that turned out to be an ROTC training exercise. There have been several questions and concerns expressed about the initial message, so I’d like to take a moment to address those issues raised.
Around 2:30 p.m., an individual called Mason Police to report seeing two men carrying assault-style weapons near the Field House on the Fairfax Campus. This had the potential to be a serious event, and our emergency personnel are trained to share information about evolving incidents quickly to keep students, faculty and staff aware of potential threats. Police were dispatched to the scene, and the university issued a Mason Alert at 2:45 p.m., which let everyone know what we knew at the time and to stay clear of that area.
A short time later, police arrived on the scene and discovered that the two men were ROTC cadets. The men were carrying plastic replicas of weapons and participating in a training exercise. A second message promptly went out at 3:08 p.m. to clarify the situation and confirm that there was no threat.
We have received feedback from members of the university community who thought that the initial message did not provide sufficient guidance on how to respond to the potential threat. We take this feedback seriously and will be reviewing our practices to make sure alerts are as timely and informative as possible. Additionally, we will send an email to the university community next week that explains how to prepare and respond to active threats on campus and other emergencies.
We will also meet with ROTC leaders on campus to ensure that future training exercises are consistent with university policies. This includes an existing university requirement that any item resembling a weapon that is used in a training exercise – including ROTC exercises – be reviewed in advance by Mason Police.
I want to commend the individuals who reported seeing seemingly suspicious behavior on campus. We all have a responsibility to report unusual or potentially threatening behavior.
The safety of our community remains the university’s top priority, and we will continue to be vigilant when there are potential threats to that safety. If we believe there’s even a chance of a serious threat, we will err on the side of caution and share the information we have.
Jennifer (J. J.) Wagner Davis
Senior Vice President, Administration and Finance