During my childhood, it was a common practice for my school to go into “lockdown” at least once a month. Some places practice tornado drills, other places practice earthquake drills, but I practiced active shooter and bomb drills. I remember these drills clearly. I remember the code that my district used to signal lockdowns, I remember the struggle of being quiet, and I remember the times these drills were needed.
I think Monmouth University should implement these types of drills and educate students and staff on procedures that would be followed in the case of an active shooter or some other emergency situation. For some reason, school shootings are a common occurrence. Elementary schools are preparing for situations that college students should be preparing for as well. Elementary schools are one building, monitored by admin, and students are corralled by teachers constantly. That is not the case for college campuses.
One time I had to go into lockdown because a dog was let lose in my elementary school, another time because there was a bomb threat on my mile square city, and another time because a parent went after a teacher with a knife. These procedures could have been the thing that saved my life. In high school, they had mock active shooter drills every four years. In these mock drills, we went into lockdown and cops walked through the school dressed as criminals attempting to get into unlocked classrooms. Students who were not in a secure location were turned into victims. The building was cleared out by the SWAT team. They evacuated the school to the football field three blocks away from the school. As students exited the school, they had to raise their hands above their heads to show they were no threat and got patted down. These drills could be scary and overly realistic, but in today’s society, I think they are necessary.
In my freshman year here at Monmouth, we had a situation in which the student center was evacuated and the emergency notification system was used. In that time, no one knew what to do; even my professor was unsure of what the proper procedure was.
Students in college attend classes in different buildings. No one monitors who enters and exits campus, and students are free to go where they want when they want with no one keeping track of them. I don’t think college students need to be monitored; the whole point of going to college is being on your own, but I think something needs to change.
I think procedures need to be created, put into place, and practiced. Whether that means having drills of different scenarios or mandatory trainings, something needs to be put into place. Students and staff should be educated on these procedures.
Hopefully, one day, this is not something that people have to constantly think about. I hate that one of the first things I do when entering a room is plan an exit for if something was going to happen. I hate that I calculate where I should sit based on the probability of something terrible happening. I am tired of being scared of the “what ifs” because of what has happened elsewhere. I think it is time that we change things. I know that hoping that Monmouth can change the “what ifs” is unrealistic, but I hope that maybe they can take the fear that comes with the “what ifs” away from students.