BU reacts to national campus shootings

On Jan. 20, a student at Widener University in Pennsylvania was shot and injured outside of the student recreational center. 

On Jan. 21, a teaching assistant at Purdue University was shot and killed during class.

On Jan. 22, the University of Oklahoma went on lockdown after students reported hearing gun shots.

On Jan. 24, a student at South Carolina State University was shot and killed outside of his dorm.

And on Jan. 28, there was a shooting on Tennessee State University’s campus, which involved no students or faculty members.

Within the span of eight days, thousands of students on college campuses across the United States were put on lockdown for hours with little to no information about their safety and the safety of those around them.

In January 2014 alone, seven other confirmed shootings took place in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, totaling two dead and eight injured students.

These events serve as grim reminders that college campuses aren’t always as safe as they seem.

In an interview with 1470 WMBD 100.3, Bradley Chief of Police Brian Joschko said all of the officers at the BUPD are trained to handle an active shooter event.

“Our officers routinely practice response to critical instances, including active shooter or other types of serious crimes in progress,” he said. “I can absolutely attest that the officers at Bradley are very competent and very able to respond.”

In the event of an emergency situation, Joschko said BUPD can utilize the foreWarn emergency system, which sends text messages to those who have signed up for the service, updates emergency alert webpage and Bradley homepage and emails students, faculty and staff.

Bradley also has a public address system wired within some of the academic buildings and outside at different places on campus, which Joschko said is tested regularly.

Joschko said BUPD could notify everyone on campus of an emergent event “within a couple of minutes.”

“We have pre-scripted messages,” he said. “They’re typically short, and they don’t provide a ton of information, but that’s because we typically don’t have much information at the time of impact.”

In an active shooter event, BUPD asks students and faculty to follow specific protocol, which can be found on its website under Emergency Guidelines. Two separate lists are provided: one, to the person who feels safe to leave the building, and the other for a person who does not feel safe.

Both lists focus on the immediate safety of the individual. The “safe to leave” list asks the person to exit the building and notify anyone encountered during the exit of the shooting event. Once safe, the person is advised to call 911.

The “unsafe to leave” list tells the person to go into the nearest office or room, lock and barricade the door, cover the windows and act as if no one is in the room. The individual is advised not to answer the door and to call 911 if possible.

The guidelines make it clear that leaving the building or area should only be done if the individual feels it can be done safely.

Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Nathan Thomas said he is very confident in the systems in place to protect students, specifically the faculty training.

“Key university personnel frequently review our emergency procedures,” he said. “We rehearse and practice our response to a variety of scenarios, and we review our responses and benchmark other university responses to issues our campuses face.”

Thomas said he does not think Bradley ever experienced an active shooting event.

But some students are looking to take a more active approach now, before something might happen.

Junior and Kappa Delta President Holly Alguire said Bradley’s chapters of Kappa Delta Sorority and Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity plan to host a campus-wide active shooter informational event.

Hopefully, Alguire said, the event will be held at the end of February.

In the end, Joschko said students, faculty, staff and police officers should prepare mentally and physically in the unlikely event that Bradley encounters an active shooter event.

“We all hope that it never happens, but we also train so that if, heaven forbid, something like that happened, we are prepared to handle it,” Joschko said.