Dixie State University’s safety strategy for an active shooter has serious shortcomings.
According to Everytown Research, there have been 150 school shootings in America in 2015. There have been three intentional shootings so far this month alone at college campuses across the nation, including Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where 10 individuals lost their lives Oct. 1.
There are lots of issues surrounding gun violence in America we can’t solve simply, but there are ones that we can.
While most DSU administrators would like to say everyone on campus is well equipped to handle a shooter, that’s simply not the case.
The current strategy, “Run, Hide, Fight,” says to use “prior thought and training,” which assumes all students and faculty have been trained and given prior thought. These instructions on how to respond in emergency situations can be found on the DSU website, but only provide “basic and preventative action that should be taken.” The active shooter section is particularly basic.
Despite administration’s efforts to implement a mass alert system through text message, email and on the televisions across campus, students aren’t alerted through text or email unless their information is up-to-date on their MyDixie account and their settings are configured to receive these alerts. Upon registering, students’ phone numbers are added to the alert system. Additionally, incoming freshmen are encouraged to sign up for the alerts in the elective first year experience class, but unless students know to update their information, they likely won’t do it. Students need to take safety more seriously and be more proactive about updating their information.
Administrators do recognize the importance of safety, but their current efforts simply aren’t enough.
DSU’s lack of mandatory safety training leaves our campus naked and vulnerable. Mandatory training should be conducted each semester. Although there was training against shooters for faculty 2.5 years ago, no recent, mandatory training has been conducted despite the increase in campus shootings in our neighboring states.
Every student should be trained both hands-on and informatively. Students should know how to lock a door from the inside or how to barricade any given classroom, as well as detect warning signs of dangerous behavior among peers.
If the monetary cost of mandatory faculty and student safety trainings are a concern, then the budget desperately needs to be re-prioritized so safety is above publicity and recruitment. Why should we focus on bringing more students to DSU if we can’t even guarantee their safety?
Similarly, buildings across campus should be designed with safety in mind. The Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons and Udvar-Hazy buildings are both extremely open, full of windows, and would be perfect places for a shooter to run rampant. DSU’s growth is a good thing as long as each new building is safer than it is visually appealing.
DSU is lucky because it sits nestled in a small, safe community. However, nothing is more unsafe than the illusion of safety.
Open and concealed carry are both legal on DSU’s campus. Some might say this is all the safety we need, but simply hoping some of our peers have guns to combat the shooter is not a plan at all.
DSU students need to know how vulnerable they are on campus and everyone should update their alert information in their student services account. Administrators should implement consistent and frequent training to prepare students against an active shooter, an investment where the reward outweighs the cost to secure students’ safety.
So, what’s our safety worth? The university needs to collectively go on the offensive and protect itself against a campus shooter. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to occur before people realize training needs to be implemented. Let’s not let that be us.