By KATIE BROWN
With gun violence occurring on almost a weekly basis and college shootings happening as close as Lone Star College North campus, University students must become aware of what to do if the unthinkable happens.
Gun violence has risen rapidly in the past year, but school shootings have been occurring for decades.
At least 175 American school shootings have been recorded since 1999. Especially with the controversy over gun control becoming more prevalent, the threat of an armed attack on campus is real. Dr. John Mark Reynolds, provost, said he believes that the University is the only college campus in Houston that has
“We are, in fact, the only campus in Houston that hasn’t had such an incident and we know we have to be prepared,” Reynolds said.
Despite the ever-present threat, students should not panic, but mentally prepare for the possibility of an emergency.
President Robert B. Sloan Jr. said the most important action for students to take right now is to make sure all of their contact information is updated on HuskyNet.
The HBU Alert System, which uses several means to inform students of an emergency, draws all of the information from HuskyNet.
“The first thing a student must do is make sure that their data is correct,” Sloan said. “We have a multi-prong way of communicating, using text messaging, emails, voice messages and horns in case of an emergency of any kind.”
Students should also know the exits in classrooms and develop strategies to avoid danger in a crisis situation.
Dr. Craig Ferrell, adjunct professor of government and criminal justice, said that making sure students are aware of their surroundings is vital for avoiding danger in emergency situations.
“When you walk into a classroom, every student ought to look at what their options are,” Ferrell said. “Look for backdoors, windows and whether you’re on the first or second floor.”
Mental preparation for an emergency like a gunman running loose on campus is also important.
Dr. Jodey Hinze, assistant professor of business and former employee of the district attorney’s office, said that students must know that a crisis could occur.
“Be aware that it could happen,” Hinze said. “Keep your eyes open not only for yourself, but for everyone else.”
Ferrell also attested to the value of mental preparation. He added that thinking about how one would react in a given situation could help him or her avoid an emotional response if the situation actually occurred.
“If you’re thinking about it now, then you’re thinking in advance, which means you won’t make as much of an emotional response, but a well-thought out response if an emergency occurred,” Ferrell said.
If, however, a gunman actually comes to campus and begins causing harm, Charles Miller, chief of police, said students should do their best to run away from the danger zone.
“The message now is to run,” Miller said. “It used to be to hide, but the first thing you want to do now is run.”
Miller added that if running is not an option, staying hidden until police arrive is the second best option. Fighting is the last resort.
Finding the correct place to hide proves another problem, Ferrell said. The best hiding location would be a sturdy and possibly bulletproof place that is large enough to hide one’s entire body, thus providing both cover and concealment.
Awareness of one’s surroundings remains one of the most important ways to avoid danger.
Miller said the University’s police department’s new slogan, “If you see something, say something,” will hopefully encourage students to report suspicious behavior.
Miller added that all students should save the University police department’s phone number into their cellphones in case of an emergency.
The University police can be reached at (281) 649-3911, or by using any of the emergency call boxes located around campus.
Miller also said that designating important contacts as in case of emergency or ICE, in one’s cellphone can help police locate the correct people if something happens to the student.
The threat of emergencies, like a gunman coming to campus, should not cause students to panic, rather it should assure them that the University has a plan if the unthinkable happened.
“It’s important that we have a plan, but it’s more important that students know that we have a plan and what to do in case of an emergency,” Reynolds said.