School Should Be Prepared, Not Scared

On Nov. 8, 2018, a tragedy occurred a mere 6 miles from campus in our quiet little close-knit community. Borderline Bar & Grill, located in Thousand Oaks, which was recently ranked third in Business Insider’s “Safest American Cities To Live In,” was the location of a mass shooting in which 12 people lost their lives.

In response to this tragic event, we need to take a step back and think about a pressing issue that we should all be prepared to ask ourselves. What if this had happened on campus? Would we have been prepared? Would you have known what to do?

Cal Lutheran has done an excellent job of providing counseling and support post-trauma, but should also provide that same level of comfort and support in better educating students on what actions to take if there were ever an active shooter on campus.

It’s a scary thing to think about, but unfortunately, active shooter incidents are a part of the world we live in. There is no such thing as being too safe or too prepared. There have been 365 lives lost in 326 mass shootings so far in 2018, according to data from Vox. The United States Department of Homeland Security defines a mass shooting as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or trying to kill people in a populated area.”

What is California Lutheran University prepared to do if one of these incidents occurs on campus? Ryan Van Ommeren, Associate Vice President of Planning and Services, said Cal Lutheran has implemented various security measures in recent years, such as installing card access on most academic buildings and residence halls, continually testing the on-campus alert system and installing interior door locks on almost all classroom doors.

“[Cal Lutheran has] procured and installed an extensive video surveillance system that provides live camera feeds from nearly all academic buildings. Although the system is not necessarily continuously monitored, it would be invaluable in tracking an assailant and providing immediate information to first responders,” Van Ommeren said.

Technology will only go so far, though, when students and staff lack training. Alexis Ghattas, Associated Students of California Lutheran University Government Senate Director, said that although Cal Lutheran has taken steps to ensure we have a plan, she believes there is room for improvement and increased security measures.

“We cannot account for every situation, but we need to make sure we are prepared in the case that anything does happen,” Ghattas said.

At some universities, such as Arkansas State University, preparation on what to do in the case of an active shooter on campus is now as important as education on alcohol abuse and sexual assault during orientation. New students hear presentations each fall semester and learn about the options of running, hiding or fighting back, a training method supported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Other universities such as Boise State University and Harvard University provide active shooter videos and information guides on the school’s website, which gives easy access to basic information on what to do in an active shooter event on campus.

Cal Lutheran does an annual safety drill on campus each year, but it’s not a shooter drill. Van Ommeren said the last active shooter drill at Cal Lutheran was in 2016, which included training for staff and faculty by the Ventura County Sheriff’s office.

This is something that needs to change. We need adequate knowledge and training to better understand what to do in case there is an active shooter on Cal Lutheran’s campus.

We have been trained since elementary school about what to do in the case of a fire. Cal Lutheran should follow the example of other universities and make sure students’ preparation for an active shooter on campus is a priority. For example, adding a seminar for all incoming students or informative videos are just some of the small changes that can significantly increase safety on campus.

Campus safety was contacted by phone and email for further information, but had not responded as of Dec. 3.

Karley Cable
Reporter