We have all read the headlines and watched the news coverage. We have all been shocked and saddened by the senseless violence and loss of innocent lives. Columbine High School, 1999; Virginia Tech, 2007; Northern Illinois University, 2008; Sandy Hook Elementary School, 2012. This is just a partial list of educational institutions that have suffered active shooter incidents in the past few years. These events, as well as all too many others around the country, serve as poignant reminders that no one can be certain when or where such tragedies will occur.
An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. When we consider the randomness and unpredictability of active shooter incidents, we can approach the issue in one of two ways. We can assume it won’t happen here and do nothing; or we can embrace the fact that preparedness and awareness are keys to helping protect our students, faculty, staff, visitors and ourselves should we have an active shooter on campus. Our responsibility to take reasonable and prudent precautions to protect the AU community tells us the latter approach is our recommended course of action.
To that end, President Neil Kerwin and his cabinet have endorsed providing all members of our community with a brief but effective video entitled Run, Hide Fight: Surviving an Active Shooter Event. This video provides guidance on how to respond should an active shooter situation occur. The video is presented in a frank and realistic manner with a singular focus: preparedness. While the scripted violence is simulated and mildly graphic, the message is real and will hopefully resonate across the campus. The video was prepared by the City of Houston.
For those wishing to have in-depth training which includes a more sedate video and a testing module, please follow this link to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency video entitled Active Shooter: What You Can Do.
The biggest obstacle to safety and security is complacency. Please take the time to watch one or both of these videos and take heed of the message to “Be Ready”. In the near future, another memo will follow that details the steps AU has taken to both prevent and respond to the issue of violence on campus. Thank you in advance for helping keep our AU community safe.