Run, hide or – if all else fails – fight. That’s what Salt Lake Community College emergency procedures lay out in case of an active shooter on campus.
After the mass shooting at Michigan State University last month, which left three students dead and injured five others, SLCC community members are left thinking about what they would do if the same were to happen on their home campus.
“We give three principles: run, hide, fight,” said Shane Crabtree, associate vice president of public safety. “It’s very simple. We teach [to] know your surroundings, keep your spidey-sense up. If something doesn’t seem right, you should be more aware.”
With a preface noting that “no single response is best for every possible occurrence,” those three principles can be found online and in offices and classrooms on campus. The college also encourages community members to sign up for the emergency alert system through MySLCC.
However, while SLCC faculty and staff are required to take workplace violence training upon hire, students say they must seek out emergency procedures on their own.
“What happens if you’re in an editing bay?” asked film student Grace Mastroianni, gesturing to the glass-doored room behind her, where she spends a lot of time. She added that hiding in rooms without tinted window screens, such as the South City library, would be challenging.
Crabtree does not consider large windows as a huge safety concern, saying that while the glass limits where people can hide, the electronic door locks should dissuade intruders from entering. He said this holds true even for rooms like the Student Media Center and the newsroom at South City Campus, which are walled with floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides.
“It would be highly unlikely that they may try to shoot through the window. They may,” he said. “If you see an active gunman start raising his gun, or even before that, start flipping over those tables so you’re not seen. The perpetrator is not going to just shoot randomly. They want to preserve their bullets.”
Crabtree maintains that his department is always working behind the scenes to ensure student safety. Whenever a national school shooting occurs, Crabtree said he meets with department members to discuss preparedness. The college also has a behavioral intervention team for “students struggling in certain areas” to prevent possible violence.
Crabtree said the Department of Public Safety cannot require SLCC students to learn emergency protocols because most of them are adults, and added that it’s impractical to hold active shooter drills for students as they are never all on campus at once.
“We’ve tried to get [a training video] up on new student orientation, but new students have so much to do that that just hasn’t been a piece of it,” he said.
The lack of an actively communicated plan led dental hygiene major Kayla Gomez to doubt SLCC’s willingness to keep students safe.
“I don’t think our school even has a plan for a mass shooting,” she said. “Knowing that so many shootings have happened, it doesn’t feel like teachers are as proactive as when they were more in the know and aware. It’s hard to go throughout the school knowing protection still is not there for students.”
Mastroianni is more concerned about students not knowing how to protect themselves. Recalling a time when the fire alarm went off while she was on campus, many students, she said, seemed confused about what to do and worried the same would happen if there were a violent intruder on campus.
All emergency procedures – active shooter, fire, earthquake and so on – should be made more clear to students, Mastroianni said.