By Colin Macdougall
Recently, the nation was shocked by yet another violent mass shooting. This time, the victims of the attack were students and faculty of Umpqua Community College. On Oct. 1 at 10:38 a.m. in Roseburg, Oregon, a shooter entered Snyder Hall. In a matter of 10 minutes, he murdered eight students and one assistant professor, and injured nine others before taking his own life after a gunfight with the police.
As the sad news about the fellow community college fell upon the people at Washtenaw Community College, the following Monday and Tuesday students and faculty took a moment of silence in class for the lives lost in the tragedy. Student Activities had sympathy cards and a banner available for students to sign in the Student Center later in the week. Coordinator of Student Activities Rachel Barsch shared her thoughts about the recent unfortunate event:
“We want to show we stand with them in solidarity,” Barsch said. “We are hoping that it sends them some level of comfort…there are cards that students can sign as well if the banner gets full of students or (if students) have a longer thoughtful message, they can fill out sympathy cards and we are going to send that along with the banner.”
Barsch added that if students are feeling distressed about this recent event or anything else, they can pick up information from the response team at WCC, which includes on- and off-campus resources.
“We are also asking students if they are interested in watching a shooter safety presentation that the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office would give…. If they don’t want to be a part of the presentation, they can go to the WCC website and watch a couple of videos Campus Safety put on that gives tips on what to do in those situations,” Barsch said.
Vice President of Student & Academic Services Linda Blakey offered where students can find information about these types of emergency situations and the security measures taken if some sort of event were to happen, such as a shooter entering WCC.
“On our Campus Safety and Security website, we have different (emergency) procedures but also specific information on active shooters,” Blakey said. “There is a link that has information on the ALICE Training (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). We will offer the training later this month or the beginning of November.”
On the website under “Active Shooter” there is a video where Community Director of the Washtenaw Sheriff’s Department Derrick Jackson gives an overview of the ALICE approach to an active shooter. Jackson explains how the police chiefs in Washtenaw County joined together to devise a plan and approach for an active shooter situation.
“They got together and made this three part plan around policy, training and community engagement,” Jackson said. “ALICE is a unified training… making sure that it was something that utilized all the infrastructure and technology that are already in schools and businesses.”
“ALICE is not a step-by-step. You don’t go through the ‘A’ in ALICE, the ‘L’ in ALICE. It’s about providing you with options and training you with options to respond in a situation like this. It takes into account those natural human behaviors that we have,” Jackson explained.
He added, “(ALICE) is researched-based, based on all the other shootings that we’ve seen in the past. It’s been legally reviewed and vetted. It’s really about staying alive until the police arrive.”
According to Jackson, in an active shooter incident, two to three people will be killed every minute from the start of the incident until it ends. And 86 percent of the active shooter cases in the country are ended by force.
“Calling 911 and getting law enforcement on their way (to the scene) is what is most important because it’s all about closing that gap of time,” Jackson said.
Faculty and staff have accessible resources if a situation were to occur and the technology of WCC plays a role in how to react to these situations. Faculty also attended the most recent ALICE training provided.
Blakey explained that in addition to having key fob platforms on the outside of classrooms, they are on the inside of the door as well. The platforms are in all instruction rooms and science labs, according to Blakey, whereas previously, instructors had to exit the classroom to lock it down.
She said that as a school, a commitment has been made to ensure that these key fob platforms are in place and Campus Security, from their panel, has the option to lockdown a certain building or the entire campus all at once.
“The security at this campus is much more secure here than others,” Blakey said.
If an active shooter were to enter the campus, the situation would create a county-wide response, according to Blakey.
“No single jurisdiction would respond, but (it would be) a community response,” Blakey said. “All the cities and townships such as Ann Arbor, Pittsfield, Ypsilanti, and Washtenaw County Sheriff’s would all be responding. They basically have a county-wide SWAT team that trains all together.”
Blakey also referred to the “Report a Concern” form on the school’s website under “Services.”
“If students see something, say something. So whether it be your view of someone in your classroom or the hallway… if you have concerns about someone you can use the ‘Report a Concern’ and that gets reviewed,” Blakey noted.