In light of mass shootings in large cities like Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada, people may not remember that mass shootings also occur on college campuses, which are often seen as “bubbles” that are relatively immune to real world tragedies. According to a study by the New York City Crime Commission, that is not the case.
The researchers found that the number of shooting incidents on and around U.S. college campuses has increased 153 percent from the 2001-2002 to the 2015-2016 school years.
One of the most well-known university shootings occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007 when Senior Sueng-Hui Cho opened fire on campus, killing 32 people and himself. According to CNN, campus police kept the campus population updated throughout the morning, telling them to stay put during Cho’s rampages through a residence hall and an academic building.
At Elizabethtown College, buildings require key card access and classroom doors are equipped with restraints to prevent shooters from entering. In addition, blue lights let campus community members quickly alert Campus Security of suspicious activity. Campus Security is always available and ready to handle any active shooter situation, but they also offer opportunities for students, faculty and staff to learn how to defend themselves.
Campus Security sponsored this semester’s first ALICE training session Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. in Nicarry 207. ALICE training consists of two sessions: a lecture and a scenario. Another lecture will be held Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the same time and location.
The scenario portion of the training will be held Wednesday, Nov. 1 and Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 11 a.m. in Nicarry 207. Attendees need only attend one lecture and one scenario to complete the training.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Director of Campus Security Andrew Powell said. He said some professors have incorporated the training into their classes.
Professor of physics Dr. Mark Stuckey runs through the basics of ALICE training with some of his classes in the beginning of every semester. He was impressed with the training sessions he attended and thought it was useful information for his students to know.
“[A mass shooting] is unlikely to happen at any given college, but when it does happen the consequences are extensive,” Stuckey said. “If everyone is on the same page, active shooter incidents are very survivable, but you have to know what to do.”
ALICE stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.” According to the program’s website, it is the top training program for organizations from colleges to hospitals and corporations. The program was created in 2000 and the College has used it as its active shooter training program since 2015. According to Powell, he and his colleagues have trained over 300 Etown students, faculty and staff.
At Wednesday’s ALICE lecture, Powell and Assistant Director of Campus Security Dale Boyer covered each of ALICE’s five components, which they noted must be adapted to each situation and may not be done in order.
The “Alert” and “Inform” elements of ALICE work in multiple directions, be it someone on campus alerting the police or Campus Security or vice versa. At Etown, this can be done through the EC Alert system and LiveSafe app, but Powell said that sometimes the gunshots themselves are the first indicator of a shooter and that students have to be prepared to act without official confirmation.
Another component of ALICE responses is “Lockdown.” Ideally, an active shooter lockdown would be more involved than elementary and high school lockdown drills. In addition to hiding against a wall, Powell recommended barricading and tying the doors shut with everything from desks to chairs to power cords, anything to buy the classroom some time for the police to arrive should the shooter try to enter.
“The police will get there, but they will always be too late,” Powell said, referencing the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20 children were killed in the 90 seconds it took for police to reach the scene.
The other two elements of ALICE are “Counter” and “Evacuate.” Countering a shooter who manages to enter a classroom can involve anything from swarming and physically restraining them to throwing textbooks or other objects at them. In terms of evacuation, Boyer said it helps to know the layout of one’s location and several possible exits.
Senior education major Joyce Conrad attended the training after her friend’s mother recommended it to her. Conrad said she wants to be able to protect her future students to the best of her ability and thought the training prepared her to do so.
“I feel like I’d be able to defend myself and keep my future students safe,” she said after the lecture.
Powell said that having ALICE training sessions does not imply that Etown is likely to see an attack, but warned attendees that it never hurts to be prepared for one.
“Our intent isn’t to increase anxiety, but to make people more aware and prepared,” Powell said. “ALICE’s goal is to authorize and empower people to make decisions in these situations that will help them to act and survive.”