The shooting at Umpqua Community College was a tragedy and I am heartbroken for anyone affected by this horrible situation. This disaster did spur a thought in my mind: Would Whitworth be prepared if there was a state of emergency on campus?
I am not educated about what to do if an active shooter enters campus. Even though Whitworth conducts a few active shooter response drills per year, I do not believe many people would know how to handle a situation such as the one in Roseburg, Oregon.
This past Friday, there were two more deadly campus shootings. One shooting at Northern Arizona University and another at Texas Southern University. There were many people wounded and one student in each shooting was killed. I approve of the fact that there is no tolerance for violence at Whitworth. But, people tend to break rules and in those cases mentioned above, gun violence broke out in the midst of aggressive arguments. Students here are encouraged to check out the safety procedures in an event of any campus emergency. Yet, do students actually research our campus’ safety information?
A campus emergency is a sensitive subject, but it is necessary to learn the survival tips for the safety and welfare of the community. Seattle Pacific University had an active shooter a few years ago and they now have detailed emergency outlines in their syllabus. I have a friend who attends SPU and she said professors are required to go over the emergency information in case such a tragedy were to strike again.
Looking into the Campus Security Report on the Whitworth University website, I found that there is a section about active shooters. It is recommended that members of the Whitworth community take a few minutes to watch a “nationally recognized” active shooter information video. I think it should be required, not recommended. The video would equip the Whitworth community with the knowledge of how to escape a dangerous situation.
We are given scenarios throughout active shooter drills, but this delicate topic varies on the context of the situation. Where do I go if I am outdoors and a shooter comes on campus? What if I am in the same building as the shooter? What happens if there is a threat in a heavily crowded area? These are some important questions I would like to know the answer to if Whitworth was caught in the same situation as SPU or Umpqua Community College.
I can recall one of the active shooter drills last year. The scenario sent to us through email and text message said that the fake shooter would be at Dixon hall and we were told to stay wherever we were because the buildings would be on lockdown. I do not think many people took this drill seriously. Several people went off campus to avoid this drill because it cut into their daily routine and it was not deemed valuable to those who escaped the learning experience. No one realizes the importance of this safety information. Whitworth is usually a safe environment, but we are vulnerable with the lack of safety information.
An active shooter scenario is relatively rare. Yet, I would hope that all of us would have the knowledge of how to handle and react to such a haunting situation. It would be in our community’s best interest to know how to support those affected in any threatening campus emergency. Students should be more aware of what to do in a campus emergency because, at this point, no one realizes how important our safety is.
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