Following Oregon college student, do USD students feel safe?

Ellie Smith | Asst. News Editor and Sarah Brewington | News Editor

A mass shooting on Umpqua Community College’s campus left 10 dead and seven injured in Southwest Oregon, Thursday Oct. 1. According to officials, the shooter was a 26 year old male from the local community. The shooter died during an exchange of gunfire with police.

The shooter carried two handguns and at least one long gun onto the campus, according to local enforcement officials.

President Obama made a statement from the White House soon after the shooting.

“[Like] I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Obama said. “It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now.”

Obama encouraged the people of the United States to demand gun control legislation from their representatives because the nation has become numb to these situations.

According to the Washington Post the shooting in Oregon was one of 294 shootings with four or more casualties so far this year.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is one of many government entities that provides information about active shooters, and active shooting situations.

“An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims,” DHS stated.

Fortunately at the University of San Diego, an active shooter has never been a problem.

The department of Public safety on campus does have an Emergency Preparedness plan if an active shooter is on campus, but many students are not aware of this.

Junior Tanya Ibrahim assumes there is an emergency plan available somewhere on campus, but is unsure of any specifics.

“I’m guessing [an emergency plan is] all online somewhere, at least I hope it’s out there,” Ibrahim said. “I have no idea what I would have to do in that event. I’d maybe try and get to my car and leave.”

Sophomore Gabby Chakkos believes USD should be more informative about what to do in the event of a shooter.

“Since there have been so many shootings this year, USD should share the preparedness plan with the students,” Chakkos said. “People don’t think these types of things happen until it’s too late.”

Although he feels safe on campus, in the event of an emergency senior Jordan Jackson would not know what to do.

“I have no idea why we do not have required training on campus,” Jackson said. “It seems to be something I should have learned freshman year. Sadly, I feel as though I would be helpless if a situation as such was brought onto our campus.”

While there are emergency procedures that students can learn in order to be better prepared in the event of a shooter, students are not required to learn these preventative actions.

Vice President of Student Affairs, Carmen Vazquez explained that USD has a plan that deals with evaluating emergency procedures.

“USD has updated Critical Incident and Emergency Response Management Plans that detail the appropriate campus response [action and messaging] in the event of a campus emergency, including protocols in the instance of an immediate threat to persons [acts of violence] such as an active shooter on campus,” Vazquez said.

While Vazquez is aware of many other trainings that USD provides, active shooter training is not one of them.

“I am not aware of training for the general student body in response to an active shooter simulation,”  Vazquez said. “We do conduct fire drills throughout the year and participate in the other state drills on earthquake safety. I will discuss general student body training with Chief Barnett as a component of certain future simulation[s].”

Chief Larry Barnett, is head of public safety at USD. In evaluating active shooter situations, Barnett explained the best way to prevent a situation.

“Students need to be aware of their surroundings and report anything suspicious including suspicious behavior,” Barnett said. “Anyone having information of a possible weapon on campus should report that information immediately to Public Safety. Reporting anything or anyone who is acting suspiciously needs to be reported immediately to ensure a timely response.”

If there is no longer a chance to prevent the situation, Barnett advises a few actions to deal with the situation.

“Stay calm and remember there are various options as listed in the campus Active Shooter procedures to run/exit to the nearest place of safety,” Barnett said. “Once at the safe place call 911 and also Public Safety and provide as much detailed information of the incident and suspect description as possible. Hide/shelter in place [lock door/s, if they cannot lock the door they will need to barricade the door with furniture or whatever they can find and turn off the lights], or take out the shooter if they have no other option.”

Although Barnett confirmed that there has not been a potential active shooter situation at USD, he does not think it will never be a possibility.

“Unfortunately, I believe every campus has the potential to be at risk of an active shooter incident,” Barnett said.

While such situations are unfortunate, P-safe at USD undergoes training to deal with active shooter situations.

“Public Safety regularly trains in the various components of responding to an active shooter situation,” Barnett said.  “Last year, Public Safety Officers and several San Diego Police Officers from Western Division [Friars and Napa St] conducted an active shooter scenario training session utilizing one of our campus buildings.”

Barnett elaborated that many colleges participate in the training.

“Our department also partners with and has trained with SDSU Police, UCSD Police, Community College Police, and School Police for active shooter scenario training,” Barnett said. “In addition, our officers receive on-going Advanced Officer Training at the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Academy with the San Diego Police Department and other local law enforcement departments.  A portion of this training also incorporates rapid response/active shooter training.”

While the P-Safe officers undergo training, students at USD do not. Barnett ensures that students are made aware of active shooter situations amongst the many safety procedures.

“DPS participates in information sessions with new students and with our students who live in the residences halls related to a variety of campus safety topics which includes active shooter information,” Barnett said.  “We also provide safety information to our students to make them aware of the various safety resources that are available through our public safety website which includes an educational video regarding what to do in the event of an active shooter situation.”

Barnett explained while they have many resources, they are always looking for more opportunities.

“We continue to look at ways in which Public Safety can further expand its educational efforts. Public Safety also makes our officers available for presentations to campus student groups,” Barnett said.

Barnett encouraged the USD community to prevent the situation well in advance, he hopes that students will take advantage of the resources that P-Safe offers and educate themselves.

“Public Safety strongly encourage all campus community members to review these procedures regularly and to take the time before an incident occurs to plan out how they will respond given the guidelines provided,” Barnett said.

While USD has not been one of the many colleges to endure this kind of tragedy, it is still vulnerable. College communities across the country look at the events in Oregon, and the USD community should educate themselves on how to act during a shooting.

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