UB should make lockdown drills mandatory
A year ago, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School galvanized the world when they marched and protested for stricter gun regulations after an armed student killed 17 of their friends and schoolmates.
The high school students became media sensations as they charged legislators to be “adults” and protect kids.
But for all their protests, little has changed in terms of gun legislation.
This worries and saddens us and is a pitiful legacy on this anniversary.
UB has thankfully not had a mass shooting. But it doesn’t mean we couldn’t and that those of us who walk the hallways are not scared. We think about Virginia Tech, Umpqua Community College and Oikos University. They all had shootings.
Some of us had gun scares at our high schools. In December, booms rang out at the Walden Galleria, where some of us work and many of us shop. Customers thought the sounds were gunshots, which later turned out to not be true. Some of us remember when a man reportedly dropped a gun in the Student Union in September 2015. In February 2010, reports of a man with a gun in Lockwood Library circulated and police evacuated the building within roughly 30 minutes.
UPD responded in a timely manner. But UB students criticized unclear UB alerts as well as the library’s connection to other academic buildings, according to Spectrum archives. Today, we think the Academic Spine could be a problem during emergencies, as did students in 2010.
Is UB prepared for a mass shooting?
We hope so.
On Feb. 4, University Police did an active shooter training session in SU.
Only 10 people went, according to Deputy UPD Chief Joshua Sticht. The same thing happened when the student organization PODER organized a similar training.
We will all be safer if we are prepared.
That’s why we’d like to see UB mandate not just faculty but student participation in these sessions or drills. Every freshman and transfer student should have a live-shooter orientation. It should be as important as general education classes.
UPD organizes sessions for departments like the School of Engineering, the Office of the Registrar and the School of Public Health. Those are successful and well-attended sessions, Sticht said. But they don’t reach the whole campus.
UB has also enacted full-scale emergency exercises, like at Hadley Village in August 2018 or in Clemens Hall in August 2016. But officials did not invite the public to participate.
UPD and emergency responders have prepared for a possible shooting, but we haven’t prepared ourselves.
New York has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. That offers some relief. But not much.
The Parkland teens had so much momentum. As did the Sandy Hook parents, in the days following the 2012 killing of 20 first-grade kids and six educators. But still, most Americans haven’t changed their attitude about gun reform. In the month after the Parkland shooting, 67 percent of Americans said they supported stricter gun laws, based on Gallup surveys. In 2014 the same surveys showed 47 percent support. In October 2018 support was at 61 percent.
Perhaps the best way we can honor the lives lost at Parkland is to do more to protect ourselves and our campus.