By Kaitlyn Kuzara
Niagara University, N.Y. – In the United States there have been a total of 437 victims of campus shootings between the years 2001-2016. Of those victims 167 were shot and killed and the remaining 270 were severely injured. These statistics don’t include the K-12 shootings that are also steadily on the rise.
Earlier this September, a gun was brought to Varsity Village as a result of an altercation that occurred around 1:30 a.m. and the campus was left vulnerable and ill-informed about security as well as its students’ well-being.
Since then little progress has been made to ensure the safety of the residents as the same ineffective protocols remain in place.
According to Kimberly Fenton, director of Residence Life, “Residence Life and Campus Safety only conduct one (active shooter) drill per year.”
In the past there the drill has been conducted during the spring semester but has been changed to occur in the fall semester, but is this enough? This years drill occurred on Nov. 5 at 10:20 p.m. and a majority of the residents either didn’t participate or were asleep during the time. I myself acknowledged the drill but still proceeded to exit my room with no repremandings.
On Nov. 6 a call was received by Campus Safety, roughly 24 hours after the active shooter drill, about a non-resident creating an altercation on the seventh floor of Seton Hall and that he had potentially brought a loaded gun to campus.
“There were 10 of us in a dorm room freaking out every time somebody knocked on the door because we were so scared,” said the resident two doors down from the altercation.
There was no report of a gun being found but yet again, timely and accurate information was not given to the frantic students until the following night.
When asked why the boys were not stopped upon entering the resident nor asked to sign in residence director of O’shea, Angelina Yearwood, responded that it was not protocol. Up until a couple of years ago, visitors were required to sign in and show ID to the night guard but as of today it doesn’t exist. Residents are forced to rely on the building and elevator scanners to keep them safe and are instead told to withhold from swiping other people up or holding the door open for someone, as advised by Yearwood.
The residential buildings are the only buildings required to enact active shooter drills. According to John Barker and Mary Borgognoni, the University as a whole is only required to enact one emergency drill a year, a fire drill. It is not mandatory for Niagara University to conduct shelter in place drills or active shooter drills over the entire campus and they haven’t changed even as the amount of university shootings increase.
No tools or resources can be found across campus to prevent a shooter from entering a building or classroom. Vincent Hall holds the most risk as classroom doors swing outward instead of inward, making it impossible to barricading the door to prevent a shooter from entering. There are no door wedges for the rooms that don’t lock once and worst of all, faculty members are not trained on what to do when faced with this type of threat.
Change needs to be made and Jason Jakubowski has agreed to work with me to create a new safety program to better ensure the safety of students. All submissions and ideas to better improve safety on campus, feel free to message Jakubowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.