Three shootings have occurred on college campuses this month alone, however, faculty and staff at Dixie State University are not required to do mandatory training for an active shooter scenario … yet.
While none of the training is mandatory for faculty, staff or students, officials in the DSU risk management office provide annual training and teach the national strategic plan for an active shooting.
Through the recently purchased program, SafeColleges, faculty and staff have been required to do trainings on drug and alcohol policy, sexual harassment and Title IX. Ninety percent of staff and faculty have completed these trainings, said Travis Rosenberg, executive director of human resources.
Rosenberg said an active shooter training is being added to that list., along with other future required trainings. The risk management office and human resources department are still collaborating on whether or not they will use the active shooter training purchased through SafeColleges or if they will create their own.
Cindy Cole, director of Title IX, said even though there are not federal or state laws that mandate active shooter training, it makes sense to make it required at DSU.
“It is for the benefit and safety of the [entire] campus,” Cole said.
SafeColleges also includes trainings for students that is being aimed to be rolled out by the end of the month, Rosenberg said. Rosenberg said the trainings that are being required through SafeColleges is being vetted through the president’s cabinet.
If a shooting were to occur on campus, a mass alert system would be activated notifying faculty, staff and students through text, call and email and will appear on the screens of computers and televisions on campus.
Depending on the situation, electronic doors may be locked by trained officials, said Sherry Ruesch, executive director of facilities management. Campus police and security personnel would also take immediate action, along with local law enforcement and emergency personnel and Community Emergency Response Team coordinated by the Risk Management Office.
An emergency procedure flip chart, provided online by the risk management office, advises faculty, staff and students to follow the national strategy of “run, hide, fight.”
Don Reid, director of security and police at DSU, said the national strategy is a tactic that works well when people are under pressure because it is easy to remember.
Faculty and staff also have an obligation to the students under the law of “loco parentis”, which is Latin for “in place of parent,” Reid said.
“The public has a right to expect that a professor, who is in charge of the that classroom, is not going to abandon ship but is going to take charge,” Reid said.
Reid said he gives presentations on safety tips at freshmen orientation and has been invited to speak in about 30 first year experience classes. However, FYE courses and orientation are not required, nor does the curriculum demand safety to be presented.
Thayn said an active shooter training is one of the many emergencies that have the potential to occur on campus and an entire semester could be dedicated to learning all the emergency procedures and preparation.
“It is kind of a juggling act to decide what the priorities are,” Thayn said.
An active shooter emergency falls behind other emergencies like flooding, fire, and earthquakes when compared to what is most likely to happen at DSU. It is ranked ninth out of the overall 12 listed emergencies, according to the research done by Washington County Emergency Services.
In a lot of these active shooter cases, the shooters have no criminal history, which makes it hard for authorities to have a way of knowing ahead of time, Reid said. But in most of these same cases, circles of peers, faculty, friends and family said there were subtle signs and warnings, especially on social media, Reid said.
What faculty, staff and students can do
Reid has worked security at DSU for 40 years and said the safest communities are those that watch out for each other.
“I call it getting the wolf out of the barn yard,” Reid said.
Reid is asking faculty, staff and students to be vigilante and report anything or anybody they think is suspicious or might be just a little weird.
“We would much rather have to prevent crime than respond to it,” Reid said.
Though not all trainings are mandatory, Thayn said he hopes faculty, staff and students take it upon themselves to become knowledgeable with the emergency procedures online and take advantage of the training provided.
“There is a procedure for any disaster that could possibly happen on campus and everybody needs to take on the responsibility and accountability,” Thayn said. “There is no perfect emergency plan. If you guys can come [to school], feel safe, get your education and be happy and successful, then we have done our job.”
Faculty, staff and students can request any type of training on an individual or group basis by contacting Josh Thayn at 435-652-7855 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Don Reid at 435-652-7515 or email@example.com.