The Student Government Association (SGA) of Slippery Rock University plans to host a “Student Safety Week” after spring break to prepare students in the event that an active shooter would come on campus.
On Jan. 27, SGA polled students from their Twitter account asking students if they would feel prepared if an active shooter came on campus and 86 percent of the 170 students that responded to the poll said they would not feel prepared.
Jessica Johnson, Vice President of SGA Internal Affairs and senior political science major, said that SGA tweeted the question to gauge the need to prepare students and she said that the results were disappointing.
“We are in a bubble here where we feel so safe,” she said.
Johnson said the event of an active shooter coming onto campus is very unlikely as the town of Slippery Rock has noted safety ratings, but that after the armed robbery that occurred at The Grove last semester, SGA discussed with the SRU administration and both parties felt it was best to prepare students, as the university does not have jurisdiction over off-campus incidents.
SGA Commuter Senator and sophomore business management major Abby Fugh is head of “Student Safety Week.”
“The reason I joined SGA is because I’m very concerned with student safety,” Fugh said.
She said she feels it is really important for students to be prepared when in the face of danger.
“You think you’d know what you’d do, but when it actually happens, you really don’t [know],” she said.
Johnson explained that the campus police used to offer a program called Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.), which was a self-defense class offered to women to develop their defensive skills against various types of assault. She said that R.A.D. is not offered anymore because there was not enough interest in the program.
Johnson said that during “Student Safety Week,” SGA would like to offer the R.A.D. program to students, as well as presentations and live scenarios for students to develop their self-defense skills. She hopes that one day self-defense can be incorporated into the Weekend of Welcome and FYRST seminar.
“I think self-defense is pretty important,” Johnson said.
Rita Abent, executive director of communication and public affairs for the university, said that in the event of an on-campus emergency, there are several precautions that are utilized to inform students.
“The first step in any emergency is to assess the threat to the health and welfare of the campus,” she said. “In the case of an active shooter, the university police would assess the situation and communicate to us the appropriate message to communicate to the university community.”
She said that the message would be communicated through the Metis Alarm systems in all of the academic buildings.
“[The Metis Alarm systems] can push an audio alert advising occupants of the building of the situation and the action to take,” Abent explained. “We have a variety of messages pre-recorded so that they can be broadcasted immediately.”
She said that students would also be notified through fire alarm voice systems in non-academic buildings and the e2Campus text alerts, as well as alerts through RockMail, www.sru.edu, the SRU Facebook page and Twitter account.
“We would also notify the media so that any safety information or directions could be distributed via regular media channels,” Abent said.
Abent noted that every department within the university has designated emergency plans for staff to deal with the emergencies. She explained that these plans are coordinated through Paul Novak, the health and safety director.
Novak said that there is no clear-cut protocol in the event of an active shooter on campus.
“The active shooter is kind of a unique thing and there is no step-by-step recipe to follow,” he said. “If you can get yourself out, that’s the ideal thing to do.”
Novak said that the protocol comes down to the individual and what they feel safe doing in the event of an active shooter. He said the ideal protocol is to get away from the shooter as fast as possible and hide in a safe area.
“It’s not as simple as doing step one, step two, step three because you’re faced with danger,” he said.
Novak is partnering with SGA for the “Student Safety Week,” to help prepare students for these types of dangerous situations.
“I’m happy to do it with SGA so I can get it out to the students,” he said.
Fugh explained that she is trying to have as many organizations as possible partner with SGA to spread the word about the importance of danger awareness on-campus and off-campus. She said she wants to leave students with as many resources as possible.