Book Reviews

Book by Margaret Jablonski, George McClellan, Eugene Zdiarski
Review by Christine Shaal
Academic Advisor
Owens Community College 


After the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April 2007, campus stakeholders began to ask themselves how could an event like this happen? and how can we prevent this from happening again? In fall 2007, NASPA’s president Jan Walbert convened a working group to address the issues of campus violence. A special NASPA supplement was published based on the group’s outcomes and crisis management model. In search of safer communities: Emerging practices for student affairs in addressing campus violence is the practical guide to crisis management for any college campus. 

The report uses a model and framework on crisis management adapted from the department of Homeland Security. There are four phases to the Crisis Management Model: prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. The group notes that crisis management is not a singular process, but an “ongoing, cyclical, and adaptive process through which a campus seeks to continuously improve its ability to either avoid of manage the impact of a crisis” (p. 7). Throughout the four phases, advisors can play a key role in crisis management.

As advisors, we have the unique opportunity to create one-on-one relationships with our student advisees. During the prevention phase, we may be called upon to sit on crisis management teams, attend prevention and awareness trainings, or identify key student leaders to assist in crisis management initiatives. The preparedness phase focuses on communication. We may be asked to communicate with our advisees the status of the event or make them aware of upcoming campus crisis management trainings. Our role during the response and recovery phases may be to act as a liaison for family members, contact our student advisees, and be a supportive presence at campus vigils and memorials.

This guide offers practical examples of college and university initiatives that can be adapted to meet the needs of your college campus. The Appendix offers a comprehensive list of resources and a helpful flowchart for managing students who may be in crisis. For advisors, it is important to know our office and campus crisis management plan and our roles. Being proactive and engaged in crisis management supports our mission as advisors of fostering student learning. This guide will help us create a concrete campus-wide plan to address campus violence. I would recommend this guide to any campus community member.


In search of safer communities: Emerging practices for student affairs in addressing campus violence (2009) Book by Margaret Jablonski, George McClellan, Eugene Zdiarski (Eds.) Review by Christine Shaal. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass 38 pp. $10.00,  ISBN # 978-0-470-46723-7
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