With active shootings on the rise in the U.S., what is Chapman University doing to prepare?
While many students remain unhappy that it is not enough, Campus Police Chief Randy Burba said some changes are taking place.
The university hired a new full time certified emergency manager. It has taken steps to help those with disabilities in case of an outbreak of violence. And it is in the process of updating its emergency preparedness plan.
That is what has some students upset: The report has not been updated for two years. And students complain nobody seems to be telling them anything.
“Obviously Chapman is not doing enough to train, educate or protect its students,” said sophomore political science major Victoria Mas. “This is horrifying to think about. We should be educating students as much as possible.”
Information on what to do in an active shooter situation can be found on Chapman’s website, but in person training has not been made widely accessible to students.
“I have not received any information on what to do in a situation like that. It sounds strange to think that I haven’t. Sounds really bad actually. How could Chapman not inform their students on this pressing issue?” Mas said.
Sophomore political science major Rithu Gurazada has not received any training or information from the University either.
“It’s kind of worrisome because I don’t really know what I would do in that kind of situation,” Gurazada said. “The state of gun violence on campuses is so prevalent and is only increasing… every student is scared of gun violence.”
For Gurazada, the lack of safety she feels on campus is also impacted by the presence of hate speech and white supremacy flyers on campus.
“That doesn’t make me feel super safe, especially given the way that Chapman has handled it,” said Gurazada.
Gurazada says there is a connection between hate speech and gun violence.
“Those very violent, very hateful, very aggressive ideations and messages can snowball into people feeling empowered to come to campus armed,” said Gurazada. “It all starts from somewhere.”
So what has Chapman done to educate and train its students for such an incident?
Chief Burba agrees that his office needs to connect with students more.
Resources and independent plans are on Chapman’s website to help students prepare and strategize for what they would do in an active shooter incident. Videos and booklets are listed. Many of these resources revolve around one strategy: “Run. Hide. Fight.” One video, on Chapman’s website, is even titled just this.
Run. Hide. Fight. Is this plan the most up to date strategy for surviving an active shooter? Is this plan inclusive of all of Chapman’s community?
Jana, Remy, co-chair of the Advisory Group on Disability and Accessibility for the Chapman Diversity Project, does not think so.
“Not all students have those three options. For example, somebody in a wheelchair might not have the ability to run or fight,” said Remy.
The Public Safety Office is one of the forces responsible for putting forth comprehensive, inclusive, and up-to-date emergency preparedness information.
Burba says the ‘Run. Hide. Fight.’ Strategy applies to everybody because it provides three different alternatives based on the ability or inability to perform the others.
“If you can run, which means get away from the situation, then you should do that,” Burba said. “Whether you’re on crutches, in a wheelchair, or impaired in another way, the evaluation and decision is yours based on the circumstances and if you feel you have the time and ability to remove yourself from the danger you should do so. If you feel you cannot remove yourself safely, you should hide; again, this applies to everyone. “
Burba added: “And ultimately, if you cannot safely get away from the situation, and hiding does not work, you should try to fight back. This includes everyone. All people will have different degrees of ability and comfort in doing this. ‘Run. Hide. Fight.’ is still the national standard. There are variations but it all still generally comes down to these three options.”
Burba said that there are Evacuation and Accessibility workshops available for those with disabilities, and that they have met with local emergency experts to purchase additional evacuation chairs and to stay updated on any new developments.
Though the emergency preparedness plan has not been updated for two years, “It is up to date as far as requirements but we are going to review it thoroughly this year as we have hired a new full time Certified Emergency Manager,” said Burba.
Another aspect of the plan includes alerting students through “Panther Alerts”, a system that simultaneously messages and voicemails students with emergency alerts. The system contacts the most up-to-date information given by students.
Assuming that this information is the most updated, what is Chapman doing to provide students with it?
Burba said he would like to see “More involvement and training with floor wardens and building coordinators,” as well as “more in person training and familiarization with the plan.”
Despite having worked two on-campus jobs, being a full-time student, and living in on-campus housing, Gurazada has not received any in person training.
Chapman’s website states that, “Supervisors, faculty, researchers and staff are responsible for understanding the basics of workplace safety, including life safety issues, hazard recognition, risk assessment, hazardous materials management and emergency response.”
“If there’s a Healthy Panther, there should also be some sort of emergency preparation course,” Gurazada said.
Healthy Panther is an event held during orientation week that educates students on alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct. The event is mandatory for Chapman freshman and transfer students to attend.
It is important to note that Chapman does provide availability for staff and students to sign up for personal safety training sessions via their website.
“Gun violence and school safety is just as valid of a threat and danger to students at the time they’re at school as alcohol related incidents,” said Gurazada.