Skip to contentSkip to site navigation

Emergency Resources and Information

IN ANY EMERGENCY, call ext. 7333 from any campus telephone or
(845) 437-7333.

Emergency blue phones are also located throughout the campus.

The college prepares for a variety of emergency situations under the leadership of the Crisis Response Planning Group. The group meets regularly throughout the year, organizes teams to study resources and procedures, conducts tabletop exercises with public safety agencies, and develops the college’s Crisis Management Plan.

I. Emergency Notification and Campus Communication Systems

The college has developed multiple means of communicating emergency information, including the Vassar College website at, automated telephone and text messaging, an emergency siren, and other means.

A. Automated Telecommunications/Email/Text
Message Systems

Computing and Information Services, in collaboration with the Office of Communications and the Office of Safety and Security, has installed, maintains, and tests emergency communications systems capable of sending automated telephone calls, emails, and text messages to the entire student body and workforce.

Twice a year the college tests the automated telephone and text systems by sending a text message to cell phones (students and employees) and recorded voice messages to cell phones (students and employees) and home phones (employees only) whose users have registered their contact information. These tests are always announced in advance. All students and employees are encouraged to provide contact information that can be used in the event of an emergency.

B. Responses to Emergency Siren on Campus

A violent incident on campus is something none of us expects to experience. Preparation for what to do in such instances is essential, however, and the college provides regular information sessions for students and employees. Below is a summary of main points to follow. Remember: THINK, RUN, HIDE, DEFEND.

THINK: Except for testing announced in advance, the emergency siren will be sounded only in response to an imminent life-threatening event, such as the presence of an active shooter. Unless you know it’s a test, stay where you are with doors locked if possible until you have been able to assess your circumstances. The college will use its emergency communications system to send information as quickly as it can via text message. The most important first step is to THINK through your situation.

RUN: If the location of the problem is clear and it is obvious you can flee to a safer location, your best option may be to RUN.

HIDE: If fleeing doesn’t seem like a safe option, HIDE in the most effective way you can:

Lock or barricade your door, turn out the lights, silence your cell phone or other device that could indicate your presence. Move away from doors and windows. If you are in an office, hide under your desk if you can and pull your desk chair under the desk.

DEFEND: If you are near the source of the gunfire, you may need to DEFEND yourself. Look around for what may be suitable objects that you can use to disarm or disable the perpetrator — fire extinguisher, chair or other furniture, for example. If you are with other people, form a plan to protect yourselves.

Whether or not you hear the siren, if you hear what sounds like gunshots, assume they are gunshots and consider your immediate options to avoid the perpetrator.

For questions and comments, please contact the Office of Safety and Security, (845) 437-5200. Information is also available at

In an emergency, call Security at 845-437-7333.

II. Fire Safety and Evacuation Instructions

Vassar students must become familiar with the policies and procedures outlined by the Office of the Associate Dean of the College, Residential Life and Wellness to prepare and respond properly whenever a fire alarm sounds,

A. Evacuation Procedure for All

When the fire alarm rings in a building, the following procedures should be followed:

Shut the windows and doors, if you are in your room. Do not, however, attempt to return to your room or your office from another part of the building.

GET OUT of the building at once, using stairs. Elevators are NOT to be used during a fire or fire drill. Do not use fire escapes unless stairways are blocked or otherwise cut off.

Walk rapidly to the nearest exit, DO NOT RUN. Avoid panic; get out in a calm, orderly fashion.

Once out of the building, stay outside until the fire chief gives permission to return to the building or until instructions are given by a fire officer.

During a fire, the telephones in a building may not be used for incoming or outgoing calls except by authorized fire personnel. If you need to make a call, use a cell phone.

During a fire, avoid the scene of the fire and keep campus roads clear for emergency responders.

B. Evacuation of Persons with Disabilities

The safe evacuation of all members of the Vassar College community in the event of a fire or emergency is of the utmost importance. The college therefore asks all individuals who may need assistance in an emergency to self-identify themselves to the Office for Accessibility and Educational Opportunity. Once an individual has self-identified, the college will work with the individual to develop a personal emergency plan that includes specific evacuation procedures from any building on campus including their residence, sheltering procedures, and means of communication in the event of an emergency.

Any individual who cannot evacuate a building in an emergency independently or safely with little assistance from others should stay in place within their room or office, or move to an area of refuge. If forced to stay in place during an emergency or if you need evacuation assistance:

Notify others evacuating that you are remaining in your room and ask them to contact Safety and Security with that information immediately upon exiting the building.

Call Safety and Security at (845) 437-7333 or 911 to notify emergency personnel of your exact location and need for assistance. Security will then dispatch an emergency responder to the location to assist with evacuation. You are strongly encouraged to have a cell phone with you at all times and program the Safety and Security emergency phone number (845) 437-7333 and 911 into your phone.

Any individual requiring evacuation assistance is encouraged to update her/his/their self-identification information semi-annually, no later than September 30 and January 30 of each calendar year, or whenever circumstances warrant an update (e.g., changes in her/his/their condition that would require a change in assistance). A list of persons needing evacuation assistance will be distributed to Safety and Security as well as the Arlington Fire Department.

III. Resources for Students on Evenings and Weekends

The following campus resources are available for students during evenings and weekends:

Security, (845) 437-7333

Administrator-on-Call, (845) 437-5221. House advisors serve on a rotating basis; the associate dean of the college, assistant dean, director or associate director of residential education, and/or director of health education serve as back-up administrator-on-call on a rotating basis.

Vassar College Emergency Medical Services (VCEMS), (845) 437-7333. Campus emergency medical technicians provide first response for medical emergencies. The Health Service is open until 5:00pm weeknights and from 12:00noon to 4:00pm on weekends. Medical staff is on call. Night Nurse Triage Service is available when the Health Service is closed. Call (845) 437-5800.

Counselor-on-Call, (845) 437-5221 for a member of the Counseling Center staff.

The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) advocates are trained faculty, administrators, and staff who provide support and information about resources for victims of sexual assault, rape, relationship abuse, and stalking. SART members can be reached 24/7 by calling the Campus Response Center, (845) 437-7333 and asking to speak with a SART advocate.

Title IX Coordinator, (845) 437-5221. Emergency access to the Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate official trained in interviewing victims of sexual assault shall be available upon the first instance of disclosure by a reporting individual.

IV. Involuntary Student Leave of Absence for Reasons of Personal or Community Safety

Vassar is committed to protecting its community members from the risk of harm, and preserving the integrity of its learning, residential, and working environments. In extraordinary circumstances, a student may be required to leave the college if there is sufficient evidence that the student is engaging in, or is likely to engage in, behavior that poses a danger of harm to self or others, or disrupts the learning or residential living environments of others. The following policy establishes the protocol under which an involuntary leave of absence may occur, and the process for reentry.

A leave of absence from the college may be required by the associate dean of the college if, in her or his judgment, one of the following criteria is met:

The student’s behavior indicates a significant risk to the health and safety of self or others, or

The student exhibits behavior that interferes with her or his ability to function in an academic or residential setting and/or seriously interferes with the educational pursuits or living environment of others.

In cases where a leave may be required, the dean will consult with, as applicable, the director of the Counseling Service, the director of the Health Service, the director of Accessibility and Educational Opportunity, the director of residential education, or an appropriate representative from the Office of the Dean of Studies. If possible, the dean will speak in person with the student before making a final decision, and may also consult with the student’s parents or family. The decision to require a leave will be communicated, when possible, directly to the student by the dean. When a student is required by the associate dean of the college to take a leave of absence, clearance by the dean –that includes the completion and submission of a reentry form by an outside health professional on behalf of the student that indicates the student appears to be prepared to return– will be required before the student may return to Vassar. In accordance with college policy, students on leave for more than two terms may be required to withdraw.

V. Missing Student Policy and Protocol

The following policy has been established concerning students who live in College-owned campus housing and who, based on the facts and circumstances known at the time to College officials, are presumed to be missing. Reports of a missing student should be made to one of the following Vassar College officials: Director of Safety and Security, (845) 437-7333; Associate Dean of the College for Residential Living and Wellness, (845) 437-5315; Dean of the College, (845) 437-5600; Director of Residential Education, (845) 437-5860.

Other College officials receiving a missing person’s report relating to a student are required to notify the Associate Dean of the College for Residential Living and Wellness or Safety & Security immediately.  Any report of a missing student will be fully investigated by appropriate college personnel under the coordination of the Associate Dean of the College for Residential Living and Wellness and/or the Director of Safety & Security. In order to determine if a student is missing, College officials will check a student’s card access records, class attendance, student residence, and use other methods to determine the status of a missing student. Vassar will notify appropriate local law enforcement agencies not later than 24 hours after the time a student is determined to be missing. If the student has designated an emergency contact person, the College will notify that individual as well.

Emergency Contact Information

In compliance with the Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act, federal law, 20 U.S.C § 1092j, a student may identify a confidential contact to be contacted by the college not later than twenty-four (24) hours after the time circumstances indicate that the student may be missing. The student should notify the confidential contact that he or she has been designated as such. Confidential contact information will be considered private and only assessable to authorized Vassar College individuals or law enforcement in the event the student is reported missing. Confidential contact information is distinct from general emergency contact information. It is kept by the Office of the Associate Dean of the College. For students under age eighteen (18) and not emancipated, Vassar is required to notify the custodial parent not later than twenty-four (24) hours after the time the student is determined to be missing. All enrolled students at the college, regardless of their living circumstances, should designate an emergency contact person. Every student (resident and non-resident) has her/his own student account and may enter or change, under personal information/address, a designated emergency contact person at any time by updating their contact information. Students should update their personal information at the beginning of each academic year as a part of the check-in process to their residence hall and room, and are solely responsible for the accuracy of the information provided and updating the information when needed.