Active shooter situations


Adrienne Oliva, Editor in Chief

In Parkland, Florida, 17 people died in a school shooting earlier this month. This was the 18th school shooting within the span of the first 45 days of the year.

As a large public school, it makes sense that there would be a variety of different reactions at Madison College to the recent events.

For example, international student Deborah Zongo explains that since her family is back home in Burkina Faso, she would feel alone if tragedy were to strike.

“Even if I wasn’t hurt, there wouldn’t really be anyone for me to talk to,” she said.

Executive Vice President and Chief Student Services Officer Keith Cornille mainly worries about the national response as a whole to the recent school shootings.

“I’m afraid that we won’t have the courage as a country to stand up and really address what needs to be addressed here,” said Cornille.

Interim for Public Safety Sergeant Joe Steffen worries only about serving the Madison College Community.

“The only reason I’m scared is to not be able to do everything I could do to help the students or staff,” he said.
Though all these reactions are valid, one reaction Madison College doesn’t want its students and staff to have is an aversion to coming to campus because they do not feel safe.

“I don’t think anyone should ever have to come to college scared,” Steffen explained. “We have a safe community, a safe college.”

Madison College is constantly evaluating how to make the campus as safe as it can be for the community who utilizes it.

“The reality is that it could happen here. It could happen anywhere. But students should feel secure that we have things in place to try to prevent as much of it as we can and to react to it in the most appropriate way we can,” explained Cornille.

Though the college does everything it can to make the campus a safe learning environment, now is the time for students and staff to also think about what they would do in the event of an active shooter on campus.

As Steffen explains, taking time to think through what you would do in an emergency is important, but that doesn’t mean fears of public shootings should prevent Madison College students from feeling safe on campus.

“I think students should be aware. I think that they should have a plan. It’s something that they shouldn’t just push aside. But I also think they shouldn’t let it consume them,” explained Steffen.

There are several things that Madison College students can do to better prepare themselves in the event of an active shooter on campus.

One thing people on campus can do to help prevent shootings is just being aware of their surroundings, and reporting things that seem strange or alarming.

“We all have to have the courage to stop this, and one of the ways individuals can is if you see something, tell somebody,” explained Cornille.

There is also something students can do to prepare themselves before emergencies even happen. By signing up for WolfPack Alterts, students will be informed of emergencies happening on campus as they are happening via their cell phone.

If an active shooter were to ever be on campus, however, there are three main words both students and staff should remember: “run, hide, fight,” explains Steffen. This process explains the way that decisions should be made in the event of an active shooter.

“Run” refers to getting away from the threat of a shooter if possible. If you can’t run, hide. “Hide” refers to not only staying out of sight and being quiet, but also barricading yourself from the shooter. “Fight” refers to the absolute last resort option if it is impossible to hide from the threat, and can entail improvising objects as weapons. Steffen also suggests ganging up on an assailant as a group if possible.

Public safety is always available for those who want further active shooter response training, and can even be invited into classrooms to do so.

Though it may feel preemptive to think about what to do on the Madison College campus in the case of an active shooter, the official training video about how to respond to an active shooter on campus that Madison College supports explains that “If you have thought about this just one time in advance, you will increase your chances of survival.”

If students are having a hard time dealing with fear or anxiety as a result of the recent shootings, Geraldo Vila-Cruz, Dean of Students, urges that students should visit one of the counselors on campus.

“If they’re finding that it is affecting their ability to move forward, I want them to come and see one of my counselors so we can help them move past that,” explained Vila-Cruz. “People are more likely to get hit by a car than be a part of an active shooting situation, and people drive all the time. We want to help people really rationalize that fear and anxiety.”

Though fear shouldn’t be consuming students, Cornille still feels like it is important for us as students and as a community to keep having conversations about what is happening in our country.

“We need to talk about it. We need to, as a society, talk about it, not just as a college. Because we just can’t live life this way.”