So you’re in class paying attention when all of a sudden you hear yelling and gunshots, would you know what to do?
Yeah, me neither.
California Lutheran University is underprepared for a disaster like this. If our recent “deranged and threatening individual” drill was any indication, we’re all doomed.
According to History Department Chair Michaela Reaves, most faculty are just as confused and unprepared as the rest of us. In late September 2015, a request was made for Campus Safety to discuss active shooter procedures. David Hilke, director of Campus Safety, addressed the faculty’s concerns thereafter.
Reaves recalls Hilke saying Campus Safety would not be able to respond if there was an active shooter on campus because they are unarmed.
“It comes up that we have no armed personnel on campus. Nothing like tasers, nothing like that,” Reaves said.
Well, that makes me feel really protected. However, the real problem is Cal Lutheran does not have a set plan for handling an emergency incident.
“Students, faculty and staff should not solely rely on campus safety or university officials for directions during a natural disaster or emergency incident,” Hilke said. “With that said, students, faculty and staff should begin to develop their own emergency preparedness plan.”
So apparently I am supposed to develop my own emergency plan that does not involve meeting anywhere or notifying any Cal Lutheran faculty that I am alive in an emergency situation. It appears it’s every person for themselves at this university.
Additionally, Campus Safety can’t even get effective communication right.
According to Hilke, RAVE Alert notifications are used to update faculty, staff and students during crises via email or text message. This was on full display during our recent drill.
“Students should follow the instructions that are provided by the RAVE Alert notifications that are sent out,” Hilke said. “However, the email alerts were received out of sequence.”
Not only were emails sent out in the wrong order, but no professor was actually going to stop class for a text alert. They have to hope students are breaking the rules to get updates. Not only was this a clumsy mistake, but it could have very easily cost lives in a real world scenario.
Hilke said that drills are not supposed to run smoothly, but that’s the point of a drill, to see how prepared you are if a real event was to occur and we aren’t.
Faculty suggested classroom phones for emergency communication. However, Campus Safety hasn’t invested in panic buttons in any classrooms, not even in Swenson classrooms which have one way in and one way out.
“The faculty was concerned and concerned for our students. I feel unsafe in the buildings that don’t have two exits and doors that don’t lock,” Reaves said.
Even resident assistants on campus have no idea how to handle an active shooter event nor are any students given protocol to follow in their halls.
“They don’t hold mandatory anything for students to learn about what to do in emergency situations,” Afton Hall Resident Assistant Emily Sim said. “I don’t think we’re prepared. I’d like to trust Campus Safety and believe they know what to do, but I have no proof that they know what to do and that scares me.”
Cal Lutheran is also an open campus, meaning anyone can walk on campus and gain access to unlocked buildings.
Other universities such as Xavier University and, according to Reaves, University of California, Los Angeles have guard posts and extra security measures to keep a campus more closed. We do not.
According to Randy Toland, the administrative assistant to the Dean and Humanities facility, a man entered the Humanities building in January of 2011, tossing tables off the balcony and destroying artwork in the downstairs art gallery. Even though no one was hurt, it called attention to the lack of campus security.
Some students received active shooter plans through high school, but it is our responsibility to prepare students for anything, even though we live in one of the safest cities in the United States.
“Res[idence] Life and Campus Safety should work together,” Sim said. “Definitely make it mandatory and do it during orientation. We can hold a training day.”
Campus Safety should study other university’s safety forces, access the faculty’s needs to feel safe on campus, inform incoming students about active shooter events, and make panic buttons in every classroom a priority.
I refuse to continue dancing around the thought that this will never happen to us. I want to feel safe and prepared. Right now, I don’t.
Published March 9th, 2016