Inside Angell Hall last week, a lecture hall full of students took a break from earth science to discuss a very different topic — how to respond to an active shooter situation.
Officers from the University’s Division of Public Safety and Security delivered a presentation on active shooter safety guidelines during Prof. Brian Arbic’s Earth 222 lecture last Wednesday.
Though the active shooter presentation is not a component of the standard DPSS talk students hear during their first-year orientation, DPSS provides the presentation on a case-by-case basis to any University unit or person on campus who requests it.
Wednesday’s session was the first on the topic delivered to students in a University classroom setting. Sgt. Gary Hicks, DPSS community outreach supervisor, led the presentation.
“Like most Americans, I’m concerned that these things do happen,” Arbic said. “Faculty members are encouraged to attend presentations by the police on an active shooter scenario. At one of these presentations I said to them, ‘I stand in front of 150 students during my class, what about them?’ ”
Arbic said he plans to ask his students what they thought about the presentation when the term ends.
“I am very curious as to what the students thought,” Arbic said. “I know a few students appreciated it because they came up and asked the police to do presentations at their sororities or organizations.”
LSA sophomore Ian Hecker, a student in Arbic’s class, said the talk was a worthwhile use of time.
“The presentation definitely better prepared me to react in emergency situations,” Hecker said. “The frightening rise of mass shootings is a real threat, and the updated information included in the presentation is vital for reacting to emergency situations.”
“I absolutely think this is something every student should see,” he added. “I feel more prepared to react to emergency situations after watching the presentation.”
Shootings at universities and colleges have attracted widespread national attention in recent years after a series of high-profile incidents. In May, a shooter at the University of California, Santa Barbara, killed six students.
In February 2013, reports of a student wearing fatigues, a gas mask and an ammunition pack inside Angell Hall resulted in an armed police response.
University Police Officer Matthew Butzky, who designed the presentation, said DPSS is looking for ways to make the information more accessible to students outside of a formal lecture setting, though in-person interaction is preferable.
“One of the things I’m working on right now is getting an abbreviated version of this available on our website and directing students to look at it so they have the basic structure there,” he said. “Certainly, I would like to get it out to more students. More face-time with students is always a good thing.”
He added that there are numerous other training programs available, the most prevalent of which is the Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate program, known as ALICE, but most include similar content.
Wednesday’s presentation focused on “run, hide, fight,” a direction Butzky said is easy to remember and straightforward, similar to the guidance “stop, drop and roll.”
“It’s all about options,” he said. “In situations like this, there’s no one right thing to do, there’s no magic bullet or magic solution, it’s all about having options and taking some action. The days are gone, back in the day we thought it would was a good idea to just try to lockdown. Traditional lockdown is not a good option for these types of scenarios.”
Butzky said DPSS hopes to increase the program’s reach.
“There’s certainly support at a number of levels to get the active shooter presentation out to everyone,” Butzky said. “We’d love to have every student, faculty and staff member get it.”