Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,
Thousands of people turned out last night at the OC Fair & Event Center across from Vanguard University for a Donald J. Trump campaign event. While the presidential candidate addressed supporters at the Center’s amphitheater, scores of protestors convened outside. As we’ve witnessed over the past few months, similar rallies in other cities across the nation have sparked contentious gatherings, including egregious confrontations and incidents of violence.
This precedence weighed heavily on Vanguard University as we learned – with only one day notice – that a rally would take place across from campus. The entire administration went into immediate action to anticipate and prepare for every scenario to ensure our campus population remained safe.
In advance of the rally, Vanguard University Senior Director of Campus Public Safety Paul Turgeon worked hand-in-hand with the Costa Mesa Police Department, bringing in additional campus security personnel and overnight patrol teams. Our Campus Safety and Residence Life staff worked with our resident advisors and students to engender a sense of stability, leadership, and security.
During the rally, myself, along with Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Tim Young and Senior Director of Campus Services Paul Turgeon remained in continual and coordinated contact.
As crowds swelled in front of our Scott Academic Center and riotous situations unfolded, our local law enforcement partners positioned more than 80 Costa Mesa Police Department officers in front of Vanguard University’s entrance on Fair Drive as well as our two side entrances on Newport Boulevard and Vanguard Way. We commend and thank them for protecting our campus. Meanwhile, our university staff immediately instituted campus protection measures and worked swiftly to ensure the safety of all people on our campus.
Vanguard University has not had to operate in lockdown mode for years. Despite this, we are grateful that the exceptional professionalism and expert emergency training from our Campus Safety and Residence Life staff not only worked, but prevented potentially disastrous consequences. Their hands-on, vigilant presence made a difference last night.
As crowds dispersed, I walked through campus, entering every building with Dr. Young to speak with students, faculty and staff, gauge their feelings and offer our support. I’m proud to report that, in contrast to chaos of the gathering outside, Vanguard University operated calmly and confidently.
We thank all members of the student body for cooperating with campus safety measures and remaining in designated areas.
The aftermath of the rally was an unprecedented experience in our community. And as with any event that spurs such fervent opposition, the clash of opposing ideas and extensive news coverage, questions and unsettling feelings may remain. Vanguard University’s Counseling Center will offer additional staff over the few days, and we encourage any member of our campus community to make use of these services. Vanguard University is first and foremost a community based on Christ-centered leadership and service, and together we lived up to the core of who we are on campus last night. We thank God for His protection and we ask for His comfort and peace as we finish the semester strong together.
Grateful for His grace,
Dr. Mike Beals
President, Vanguard University