By Mckenzie Masters
Last December’s shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary in Sandy Hook, Conn., which resulted in 27 deaths, prompted Union officials to consider whether such a terrifying incident could happen here.
On March 4, faculty members viewed a training video at their monthly faculty meeting at the Carl Grant Events Center to better prepare them to respond to on-campus emergency situations.
The video, which was 20 minutes long, showed scenarios of what to do if a shooter was in a building or was trying to get inside a classroom.
It showed when to hide, when to try to attempt to take down a shooter and how to act when police arrive on the scene.
On April 16, 2007, such a scenario did happen at Virginia Tech, resulting in 32 deaths and forever changing the way campuses send out alerts.
“The video is called ‘Shots Fired on Campus: When Lightning Strikes,’ said Carson Hawkins, director of campus safety and security. “It’s by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety. It’s specifically tailored to universities and is designed to provide awareness of active shooter situations and scenarios that can happen on a campus.”
According to its website, the Center for Personal Protection and Safety is an organization that “creates challenges.” Hawkins said the video gives practical tips on how to respond if an active shooter situation should ever happen.
“This stemmed from a recommendation from the campus safety committee, which is made up of faculty, staff and students,” Hawkins said. “We meet about six times a year and look at safety issues on campus. Sometimes there are issues we pick to focus on, and then there are some issues going on in our culture that are pushed our way.”
“And obviously with the latest Sandy Hook active shooter scenario, this was one that we looked at as a committee and decided unanimously, ‘Hey, we need to look at this, are we doing all we can here at Union to have faculty, staff and students prepared if something like that ever was to happen?’”
Brian Carrier, assistant dean of students and chief judicial officer, believes Union is not immune to such an incident, and preparedness is essential.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we even have to be talking about this,” Carrier said. “This is a consequence of the Fall.”
“I just appreciate the campus safety committee for bringing it up, because it’s not the most fun thing to talk about. Also, for the faculty being willing to say, ‘Hopefully this will never happen here, but we have some responsibility to be prepared.’”
Hawkins said staff will receive training next.
“We wanted to start with the faculty because if something like this ever was to occur, the students are going to look to them for guidance,” Hawkins said.
Although no shooter has been on Union’s campus, the video allows faculty and staff to think through a plan of action.
“We love the fact that Union feels like a safe community, and that’s how we want it to feel,” Carrier said. “At the same time, it’s probably a false sense of security in that we are not immune just because of who we are and what our values are.”