Eleven school shootings have happened across America since the tragic Umpqua Community College shooting killed 10 victims on Oct. 1, according to research done by Everytown, a nonprofit organization advocating for gun control.
Seton Hall is one of the many schools nationwide that have decided to dedicate more attention and effort into protecting their campus against active shooters due to the frequency and large number of school shootings.
The Department of Public Safety and Security is working with the South Orange Police Department (SOPD) on creating and conducting a full scale active shooter exercise that they hope to hold next semester. October saw the last full scale drill, which focused on fire safety.
Police Chief James Chelel of SOPD said South Orange is lucky to see little violent crime. “We interact with Public Safety often. When they report something to us we work together to solve the problem and keep you guys safe,” Chelel said.
Thomas Giordano, assistant director of Seton Hall emergency management, said other than providing the campus with knowledge about active attackers, there are no set state regulations that must be followed regarding this type of situation. Despite this, “SHU’s response procedures mirror generally accepted best practices followed by colleges and universities around the nation,” Giordano said.
These best practices Giordano mentions includes informing the community about the “Run, Hide, Fight” concept, the FBI’s official method of protecting oneself during active shooter incidents.
The best way to survive in this situation is to run away from the shooter, but if this is not an option, the victims should hide themselves and barricade their room. Victims are to silence their cell phones and only call for help if they can do so without getting the attention of the shooter. If
these steps are not possible based on the situation, the last option is to attempt to fight the attacker.
On the FBI’s website, there is a video explaining how to put these three steps into practice if needed.
Public Safety has safety precautions in place in case of an active shooter but continues to work to find and fix the gaps in its system.
“SHU has had two full scale active shooter exercises, a ‘boots on the ground’ response by emergency services personnel responding to a simulated emergency as opposed to discussion-based exercises,” Giordano said.
As reported by Setonian staff writer Nicholas Zeitlinger, the last ‘boots on the ground’ exercise happened at Seton Hall’s Arts Center on Oct. 7 in an attempt to spread awareness of the seriousness of fire safety. The successful drill was deemed by participants as realistic and moving.
Tara Hart, director of housing and residence life (HRL), said that HRL’s policy regarding active shooters follows the University’s emergency operations plan. This includes strategies for an ‘all hazards approach’ to emergency management.
Despite Seton Hall never experiencing an active shooter on campus, resident assistants are trained on how to handle active shooter situations.
Carter McIntosh, sophomore Aquinas Hall resident assistant said, “We get various web seminars about active shooter situations and are told to call 911 and Public Safety right away.”
Despite students having access to this emergency procedure information, when asked about their education on the subject, some students have difficulty referencing when Seton Hall taught them ways to keep safe.
Daniel Golabek, junior business major serving on the Elmwood Park Board of Education, offers comparisons to the active shooter precautions of high schools versus the safety precautions here on campus.
“I’m sure there is a lot in place to keep people on campus safe, but I don’t know that SHU does a
lot to educate students about the topic,” Golabek said. “So much is done through email as opposed to public high schools where the teachers not only focus on education, but also on safety. Here the teachers just teach.”
Gianna Pallis, freshman occupational therapy major said her high school, Parsippany Hills High School located in New Jersey, had a lot of drills and awareness about emergency situations.
However, Sarah Emanuel, religious studies adjunct professor, has experience teaching in a school system where precautionary measures were not prevalent and obvious to the students.
Emanuel confirms Golabek’s theory that at Seton Hall, teachers just teach. She said adjuncts get no training on the subject, but it is something to which she has given thought.
“As much as I hate to think we live in a world where we need it, we should be getting it,” Emanuel said on the subject of active shooter training.
Alexandra Gale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org