Is it “Everyone” or “Everyone you like”?

Something that I have found interesting in my summer experience is the relationship between emergency planning and the student demographic. When emergency planners consider a population, they look at the populations by demographics. This causes categories of people to be treated as one group for simplicity’s sake. Elderly are a high focus demographic, along with medically complex people and young suburban families with a kid or two in tow. 

And yet, adult student populations are rarely considered in the emergency management field. Sure, there’s plans in place in case an emergency befalls Florida State University, but these plans fail to consider the complexity that comes with students. They’re the ones with the most diverse age range, 16-30+ at the college level. They all come from a diverse spread of living arrangements: independently in dorms with roommates, couples who rent apartments together, married families with kids in houses, at home with parents. The list goes on. But the considerations don’t. 

Students need to be a focus of emergency managers, and they need to be more aware. With FSU’s main campus  home to tens of thousands of students at any given time, that’s a big population that needs to be accounted for when an emergency happens. Where do they go, where are they housed, and what happens to them after becomes a very important set of questions to answer. And Florida alone is home to 3 of the top 10 largest universities in the country with plenty more in the top twenty largest. It creates issues that will need to be solved before an emergency, or that will have to be faced in the event of one.  But for right now, since it’s not a pressing issue that is concerning to the public, most people don’t quite understand the strain that unprepared student populations threaten to put on the emergency management systems.

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