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College Risk Management Industry: Hoodies Are Threatening

After deadly shootings on college campuses in recent years, the risk management industry and universities have teamed up to design "threat assessment teams" to try to identify potential threats as early as possible. Unfortunately, innocent people often get caught up in the hysteria, like University of Wisconsin - Stout professor James Miller, who was reported to Stout's threat assessment team because of posters he put up outside his office door.

Yesterday, FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel pointed out in The Huffington Post that some in the risk management industry officially identify protected speech and hoodies as indicators of potential threats:

Sadly, there is a campus threat assessment model that actually identifies wearing "hoodies" as a sign of aggression. [...]

NaBITA [the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association] and its sister organization, NCHERM (the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management), have engaged a lot of resources advising universities about how to watch out for potential threats on campus. In a 2009 NaBITA advisory report, various kinds of speech and behavior are put on a nine-level scale, with a student at level 9 being the next mass shooter. At levels 1-3, the following behavior is identified:

This aggressor becomes more distant and argumentative, demonstrating a lack of understanding and empathy. They conceal and deceive as to their motives and intent. For example, professors may notice this distancing in the classroom through averted eye contact or wearing concealing clothing, such as hoodies or long coats. (p. 5, emphasis added)

Adam also notes that the model states "harmful debate" as an equally dangerous threat. Be sure to read Adam's whole post.

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