Kentucky shooting forces questions of safety

By Colin Witman, Staff Writer

Shots were fired at Marshall County High School in Brenton, Kentucky last week. As another shooting is added to the long list, the question of safety at schools around the country does not exclude St. John Fisher.

School shootings were foreign to most in the United States until the fatal Columbine shooting in April 1999. Since then, a countless number of incidents have occurred, including the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 and the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.

The tragedy at Virginia Tech in 2007 opened up a new door for worry and concern in college communities that are deemed by many as safe havens of higher education. Incidents involving the safety of students occurring all too commonly has many hard at work trying to solve the problem.

With a full staff of safety and patrol officers, along with an office open 24 hours for seven days a week, Fisher is a safe and secure environment. However, high levels of security is not an exception to the world of danger. Not even safety and security officers can count out the perspective of an emergency situation, especially one in which an active shooter is on campus.

The recent shooting in Kentucky brought the idea of safety to mind for many students, including freshman Julie Lamphear who remembers sitting in presentations from campus security not too long ago during orientation weekend this past August.

“I feel we have a safe environment here at Fisher, the security does a pretty good job as well, so I am not too worried,” said Lamphear.

Also there is a procedure in place for this type of horror scenario, making people aware of the protocol is an entirely different challenge.

“I would run as far away from the incident as possible,” said Lamphear.

Freshman Joe Talbot responded differently and said, “I would hide somewhere safe, like my room, anywhere a shooter couldn’t get me.”

With varying answers to what the procedure here at Fisher would be if the situation ever did occur, there seems to be an obvious lack of cohesion.

Dr. James Bowman of the English department said, “I wouldn’t know what the best practices would be. Some [colleagues] would know better than others what some good strategies would be.”

The Emergency Response Action Plan on the St John Fisher safety website lists three different pages of steps and procedures on what to do if an active shooter ever happened to be on campus. But, with three different pages of strategies, campus security can not realistically instill them in the heads of the entire campus.

Whether or not it is decided to completely remodel the safety procedures at Fisher, to implement a larger communication network in the case of emergency, or to teach individuals self-defense via mandatory training sessions, the possibility of violence is a threat to Fisher.

Entirely alleviating the possibility of danger in any part in the daily lives of the Fisher community is not plausible. Yet, there are steps that can be taken to limit the chances of these types of tragic events that have taken lives across the country.

“What about other things to do to make it less likely of an active shooter incident occurring…mental health care, ending social isolationism, counseling,” said Bowman.

There are numerous amounts of strategies that Fisher uses to combat the likelihood of emergency situations that do not even involve security. Students can attend mental health counseling hosted by the Health and Wellness Center, join others at stress relief sessions, as well as attending meetings with the National Alliance on Mental Health.

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