When Crisis Happens

To report incidents on campus, call 9-911 (Just 911 when off-campus) or use any campus S.A.F.E. phone (on a pole with blue light on top)


  • Accidents, thefts, vandalism
  • Unusual noises or screams
  • A broken window or door
  • Tense situations that appear to be escalating
  • A person appearing to be forced into a car
  • Potentially hazardous situations, such as stuck elevators
  • Door-to-door solicitors without proper licenses

If you see something suspicious, try to be a good witness. Do not attempt to detain a suspicious person or intervene in a situation. Call the police. Do your best to keep track of the following

  • The nature of the problem
  • Time and location
  • A detailed description of the individual(s) involved: age, race, sex, height, weight, build, hair color and style
  • If the suspects leave, note the direction they go

Even if you think you overreacted or dialed University or Milwaukee Police by mistake, wait until an officer arrives and explain the situation.

Class and event cancellations

Harsh weather can occasionally force the cancellation of classes and public events. The university community can learn about cancellations by calling the S.A.F.E. Line (formerly the 'Sno Joke line), 414-229-4444, as well as tuning in to local radio and TV broadcasts. Cancellations also will be reported on the UWM home page.

Note that the university remains open to faculty and staff even when classes are canceled. If you are unable to make it to work because of bad weather conditions, check with your supervisor to learn about the policy for making up your time.

In addition to cancellations due to weather, the S.A.F.E. Line is one more place you can turn to for announcements in the event of any emergency on campus.

Best Practices in the Event of an Active Shooter

If you are in a building with an active shooter and it is possible to do so safely, exit the building immediately when you become aware of an incident. Move away from the immediate path of danger, and take the following steps:

  1. Exit the building immediately when you become aware of an incident
  2. Notify anyone you may encounter to exit the building immediately.
  3. Evacuate to a safe area away from the danger, and take protective cover. Stay there until assistance arrives.
  4. Call 9-911 if on-campus (229-9-911 off-campus) with the following
    • Your name
    • Location of the incident(be as specific as possible)
    • Your exact location
    • Number of shooters (if known)
    • Identification or description of shooter(s)
    • Number of persons who may be involved
    • Injuries to anyone (if known)
    • Advise of number and type of weapons (if known)

Take protective cover if you are not immediately impacted by the situation. Stay away from windows and doors until notified otherwise.

When Exiting a Building is NOT Possible: SHELTER IN PLACE

If you are in a building with an active shooter and exiting the building is not possible, the following actions are recommended:

  1. Go to the nearest room or office.
  2. Close and lock or barricade the door with a desk or heavy object
  3. Turn off the lights
  4. Seek protective cover
  5. Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room.
  6. Do not answer the door
  7. Call 9911 from a UWM land-line phone or 229-9911 from a cell phone to reach the University Police if it is safe to do so. Provide the dispatcher with the following information:
    • Your name
    • Your location in building(be as specific as possible)
    • Number of shooters (if known)
    • Identification or description of shooter(s)
    • Number of persons who may be involved
    • Injuries to anyone (if known)
    • Advise of number and type of weapons (if known)
  8. Wait for police or security to assist you out of the building

Fire Safety

Keeping yourself and the campus safe from fires is often a matter of following fire safety guidelines and practicing.

Fire Alarms

The campus residence halls are equipped with a fire alarm system. In the Sandburg complex, for example, the fire alarm system sounds in the commons and each tower independently. Each suite has an alarm and strobe located in the hallway. Each room has a smoke detector. Sandburg Hall and Kenilworth Square Apartments are equipped with automatic sprinkler systems.

In off campus student housing, operating smoke detectors are required by city ordinance and state code. Make sure your house or apartment has a working smoke detector. If you don't have a smoke alarm, get one (landlords are required to provide smoke alarms for renters).

All UWM buildings have audible fire alarms and most have strobe flashers. The residence halls and most campus classroom building also have public address systems. If a fire alarm sounds, evacuate immediately through the nearest safe exit. Close doors behind you. Do not use elevators. Do not return to the building until an all-clear is given by the University Police or Milwaukee Fire Department.. If you are in a building with a public address system, follow any directions given.

Fire Drills and Tests

The fire alarms in each building are tested weekly. In addition, the Department of University Safety and Assurances conducts annual fire drills in campus buildings. Campus classroom have posted emergency evacuation procedures. These instructions also give the specific building addresses and room numbers to help anyone calling for assistance. Residence Halls also regularly test the fire alarm systems.

Fire Prevention

Be aware of and report any violations of fire safety rules such as blocked exits, damaged smoke detectors or missing electrical panel covers. In general, storing items in hallways and stairwells is prohibited in campus buildings and not a good idea off campus either. Make sure exits are unobstructed. Report vandalized or improperly maintained smoke alarms and fire alarm systems.

If you're off campus, change batteries in fire and smoke alarm detectors twice a year. In residence halls, follow regulations on the use of extension cords and cooking appliances. Off campus, avoid overloading extension cords or electrical circuits. Be aware of the evacuation plan in your campus building or residence hall, and have a plan for your off-campus house or apartment.

Dispose of smoking materials properly in off campus residences. Careless smoking is one of the leading causes of fires. Smoking is prohibited in all campus buildings. Be aware that in cases of fire fatalities on or near college campuses, alcohol is often a factor. Off campus, make sure candles, incense burners and other open flames are properly put out. Use of candles is prohibited in campus buildings.

What to Do If an Alarm Occurs

When an alarm sounds, vacate the building. Leave the building immediately via the closest stairwell and remain outside until an all clear is given. Stay away from the entrance areas to allow quick entry of fire fighting personnel. Never try to use the elevators during a fire emergency. Depending on what activates the fire alarm, the elevators may go to the first floor and remain there when the fire alarm is sounded. In addition, fires often cause power outages. In this case, elevators can get stuck between floors. Do not use elevators during a fire emergency unless accompanied by a firefighter.

The Sandburg complex is equipped with an updated fire alarm system that sounds in the commons and each tower independently. Each suite has an alarm and strobe located in the hallway. Each room has a smoke detector. All of the Sandburg towers are equipped with automatic sprinklers. 

University Housing is required to test the alarm system every week. Staff members will sound the alarm in each tower between 12:30 and 12:45 p.m. every Wednesday. The elevators may go to the first floor during this procedure. 

Each semester, a full evacuation fire drill will be conducted. Failure to evacuate the building when requested (both during a drill or an actual fire) may result in contract action and/or fines issued by the UWM Police. 

Purin rooms have smoke detectors and building hallways are equipped with an alarm system. The Resident Assistant (RA) will advise the residents as to the time each week the alarm system will be tested. Any time a resident hears the alarm other than during the weekly test time, they should immediately vacate the building via the nearest exit.