On Nov. 15 The University of Southern Mississippi’s University Forum concluded the fall season by welcoming former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem to discuss “Security Moms: Homeland Security in an Age of Mayhem.”
Juliette Kayyem is a Pulitzer Prize nominee, leading security analyst and has worked closely with state and local governments to coordinate the response to BP “Deepwater Horizon” oil spill.
This year she has published “Security Mom,” which was the main discussion in her forum. The book is described as a plea for common sense responses to the nation’s security challenges.
“I want students to recognize that this is their homeland too,” Kayyem said. “Through the book I try to relate and engage readers about ways they can promote all of our homeland security. We’ll do that through stories in my life in homeland security and making sure they are apart of the conversation.”
Following only a week after the 2016 election results, the question of homeland security has heightened and become a more relevant discussion. With new administration trying to find its way, students expressed their concern throughout the forum about how effective homeland security will be.
Kayyem began her address by first apologizing to the audience. She said that as homeland security, they failed to inform the people about other hazards that can destroy their homes such as natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.
She said that they either caused people to tune out or freak out about certain things, and security didn’t let them know that homeland is not just one risk but multiple risks.
“It’s wrong to think of homeland security as only about counter- terrorism,” Kayyem said. “It’s about any risk that we face as a nation. For example: terror, oil spills, climate change, Zika, cyber attacks – you name it. And everyone has a part in trying to reduce it. It’s a risk to themselves, to their families and to the community they are a part of.”
Forum Director Andrew Haley said that people must learn that we are not separate from the issue of homeland security.
“It’s a matter of kind of attitude in some ways,” Haley said. “On one hand, there is nothing I can do to prevent a terror attack or hurricane.”
At the forum, Kayyem discussed that in our nation there is no such thing as perfect security. She said our nation is built vulnerable and the more we accept that idea, the better.
Students brought up issues such as how tourism affects homeland security in regards to visas and also questioned if the election results would affect national security protocols.
“Students become the ambassadors for these ideas,” Haley said. “Juliette Kayyem is one person. She held an important job, but isn’t as nearly as powerful as the two or three hundred people in this room. They must all take away from this message and spread it.”