Active shooter procedures crucial on campus

Royal Purple Staff Opinion

Oct. 13, 2015

Another mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon left 10 people dead, and the gun control debate is up for discussion once again.

But while the left and right argue over the Second Amendment and more stringent gun control laws, we’re left here at UW-Whitewater thinking, what should we do if something like this were to happen on our campus?   

Barack Obama expressed frustration following the Oregon shooting, and understandably so, as this is the 15th time he’s had to address a mourning crowd after a mass shooting since taking office.

“There are going to be moments as we go forward where we’re going to have to come together and figure out how we stop things like this from happening,” Obama said. “I’ve got very strong feelings about this because, when you talk to the families, you are reminded this could be your child … or your mom or your dad or your relative or your friend.”

However, we need to do more than express frustration. We need to have a plan. Students and faculty should be educated about UW-W’s procedures and protocols in the event that there’s an active shooter on campus.

As it turns out, UW-W has a procedure implemented should an active shooter be reported, which you can read about in UW-W’s “Quick Reference Guide of Emergency Procedures.” The active shooter procedure, however, is foreign to most students, as we’ve never went over it in class or practiced it in drill.

It’s the university’s responsibility to educate students and faculty on these procedures and practice them, so we can remain safe in the midst of an emergency. 

Regarding active shooter policy, the “Quick Reference Guide of Emergency Procedures” states, “Each faculty and staff member has the responsibility to: Educate their students/employees concerning the emergency procedures as outlined in this program with the assistance of the Building Supervisors.”

Despite attending this school for years, none of us have been educated about these procedures. We didn’t know they existed. UW-W needs to make these practices common knowledge for students and faculty, so we can minimize the casualties that could potentially be caused by an active shooter on our campus.

And while Obama’s frustration and call to action sound genuine, the pattern following mass shootings remains the same. There’s a call for more stringent gun control laws, opposition to that call and finally, a hodgepodge of spotty ideologies – “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Yes, it is true that people kill other people, but if we take a closer look at Oregon, Newtown, Virginia Tech or Columbine, it’s undisputable that persons with guns were doing the killing.

But this does very little to deter the American obsession with guns. In fact, gun sales and membership for lobbyist groups like the NRA see exceptional increases in the wake of mass shootings, according to an article by Mary Thompson published by CNBC.

It’s pretty apparent that Washington is caught up in a stalemate over gun control. There’s a few lefties on one side calling for stricter gun laws and on the other side, there’s gun activists, staunch conservatives and the NRA to stop any new legislation.

So while we await headlines about the next mass shooting that will take place in our country, it’s necessary to ask, what can we do here at UW-W? What’s our plan – what’s the procedure?

Our politicians may be incapable of passing legislation to resolve issues of gun violence and mass shootings, but here at home we can take precautions ourselves to prevent more bloodshed. We can do this by calling for increased awareness of our university’s active shooter procedure, and by practicing drills so that we’ll know what to do should the unthinkable occur.   

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