A Message from the Auraria Executives Council: Improving Communications During Emergencies

Dear Auraria Campus Community, 

As many of you are aware, a stabbing took place adjacent to the west side of our campus yesterday. After an altercation, a suspect stabbed another person on an RTD light rail train at the Empower Field at Mile High Station. They both left the train and it was unclear where the suspect would go next. The Auraria Campus Police Department (ACPD) officers apprehended the suspect and prevented physical harm to our students, faculty, and staff. 

When the events were initially unfolding, ACPD received witness reports of multiple suspects and multiple victims (reports that later turned out to be inaccurate). Police sent out a campus text alert at 4:12 p.m., noting that the campus was on lockdown and instructing people to “run, hide, or fight if appropriate.” Believing there was the possibility of a larger-scale active harmer situation, ACPD sent that alert in compliance with the federal Clery Act that requires such notifications when police believe there’s an immediate threat to the health and safety of the campus community. The text was a pre-scripted emergency notification, which is done to get the message out more quickly.  

We acknowledge that the content and timing of this initial text alert were alarming for many. We further recognize that many of our community members requested timely information during yesterday’s incident, as well as additional information for any potential future campus emergencies. We will work to address your concerns. We commit to doing better, and we will.

We are committed to your safety and to communicating with you as transparently and purposefully as we can, particularly in emergency situations. The three campus academic institutions and the Auraria Higher Education Center will start with an “after-action review” of all aspects of this incident. We expect we will have outcomes that may influence policy or procedural changes. We further commit to transparently reporting these findings – especially ones where we fell short – to you in the coming weeks. Your safety is our top priority and we owe it to you to continuously improve our processes.        

Marielena DeSanctis, Ph.D., President                    
Community College of Denver                                       

Janine Davidson, Ph.D., President                                           
Metropolitan State University of Denver     

Michelle Marks, Ph.D., Chancellor
University of Colorado Denver                         

Colleen Walker, Chief Executive Officer                                   
Auraria Higher Education Center