Duquesne must intensify active shooter preparation

By Duke Staff

We all know the drill.

More than likely, nothing will come from last week’s shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that left nine innocent students dead.

There will be no significant overhaul of the mental health system, no sensible gun control laws and no feasible way to prevent this from happening again.

But on a smaller scale, individual schools can take steps to address the growing threat of violence and adapt to the culture of fear on their campuses.

One of the best ways to do this is to educate students on what to do in an active shooter situation, something that Duquesne has done very well, but can certainly do better.

The current program at Duquesne is a hybrid model of in-person sessions, mandatory trainings and online videos.

After the Duquesne basketball shooting on campus in 2006 and the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, Duquesne started mandating that all employees — as well as resident assistants and directors — partake in active shooter training. Even before that, employees were required to complete workplace violence training during employee orientation, something that is still done today.

Last year, the university started taking a more systematic approach to active shooter training. Campus police unveiled a new campaign, “Get Out, Hide, Fight,” with a series of training videos and personal sessions that were heavily advertised on campus.

Police also administered 40 personal sessions to groups on campus, including commuter students and the Student Government Association.

Through mass campus emails and advertisements, Duquesne strongly encouraged students to watch the training videos online and attend the in-person sessions.

Both the personal sessions and videos are highly effective; the sessions are engaging and include simulated gunfire, firecrackers and sirens, while the videos feature a compelling dramatization and several helpful tips.

But are students really engaging in Duquesne’s training program?

It’s tough to say. Of the 10 students on The Duke’s editorial staff, only two say they have engaged with the university’s training.

Although this number isn’t necessarily representative of the campus community as a whole, it is alarming that some students aren’t aware of what to do in an active shooter situation.

Duquesne is taking the right educational approach on the subject, but if students aren’t voluntarily watching the videos or participating in the sessions, the effect is negligible.

The university is currently talking to Greek Life organizations and residence hall representatives about hosting sessions this year, but that’s not enough.

There must be a mandatory element to active shooter training at Duquesne. Perhaps the answer is to require all freshman students to watch the videos as part of their orientation, or to administer pre-planned, building-wide drills once a semester.

As students, we can’t just hope that it won’t happen to us; we have to be prepared in case it does.

Duquesne is equipped with the necessary resources to educate students. Now it’s time to make sure they are being administered effectively.