In 2019, there have been 8 reported shootings on college or high school campuses. These attacks occurred in locations across campus, such as the gym, parking lot, classroom, or school hallway. These incidents have prompted officials to consider what type of safety training should campus faculty receive to be prepared.
In May, an active shooter entered a classroom on campus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, killing two students and injuring four others, as reported by The New York Times. The tragedy at UNC is among several recent attacks on higher education institutions which raises new questions about safety and security concerns on campus, emphasizing the need for campus safety teams to provide comprehensive yet appropriate training for faculty.
The majority of active shooter or assailant incidents on college campuses occur in communal spaces, and safety in an era where these incidents are on the rise will likely be a top concern for incoming students, faculty, and staff. These situations are forcing campus communities to consider how best to manage safety during a worst-case-scenario, and the extent to which faculty can bear the responsibility for student safety remains an ongoing conversation.
Educators entered the field to be experts in a certain area of academia and to provide students with the knowledge needed for adulthood. Many are not versed in campus safety practices, nor would be comfortable taking on an active role in security. However, there are many different types of training for faculty members can be offered, and these can offer a few best practices in case of an emergency. Some of these programs can be integrated into on-boarding or orientation already necessary for staff.
The responsibility for security and safety falls primarily on campus safety teams, but in an environment where danger is a possibility across campus, basic preparedness can be valuable. There are many safety or security concerns facing higher education institutions, from managing a severe weather emergency or active shooter incident to a medical emergency in the classroom. Faculty can be given the resources needed to know how best to respond during a variety of emergency situations.
What Is Faculty Safety Training?
Faculty members across departments are likely to undergo a variety of trainings. In addition to standard new employee orientation, many college and university campuses offer or require additional training focused on topics like faculty development, cultural or diversity sensitivity, preventing sexual harassment, or bystander intervention.These programs already work toward making the college or university a more inclusive and secure place for students to learn, and incorporating addition campus safety training into existing programming can boost safety in the classroom, without putting an inappropriate duty of care onto educators.
In recent years, several protocols have become more common for active assailant emergencies, including ALICE, Run, Hide, Fight, or Window of Life. These approaches advocate that faculty, students, staff and visitors prioritize evacuation, and fight back during worst-case scenario situations where no other option is available. Professionals in the campus safety and law enforcement fields have a consensus that these approaches are controversial, and training should only be used as a last resort during a dire situation.
All three of these prioritize evacuation as many safety managers that if possible, evacuation should be the first action during a situation with an active assailant. Teaching faculty how best to determine if an evacuation plan is appropriate, versus a lockdown which involves barricading doors, turning off lights, and closing the blind, is one simple safety strategy that may be appropriate in the higher education sphere.
ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate, is one of the most popular training strategies. Run, Hide, Fight, is a similar program, urging students and faculty to escape if possible, hide if not, and fight as an absolute last resort. Both of these emergency strategies can be utilized on campus, even given the unique challenges of the university or college, such as geography or the kinds of facilities.
Stop the Bleed training is another way boost emergency preparedness in the campus community. The training is similar to public CPR training, teaching individuals how to use their hands, dressings, and tourniquets to address traumatic blood loss. During an active shooter event or another incident where blood loss may occur, five to ten minutes can make a lifesaving difference. As with ALICE or Run, Fight, Hide, proponents of these training largely emphasize this training as a way to mitigate harm during a worst-case scenario situation.
Increasing the amount or quality of faculty training is a solution that may be appropriate on a variety of campuses, as these programs can be tailored to the school’s unique needs and are shown to have improve safety. These trainings may be recommended in lieu of more drastic measures, such as recent proposals to arm teachers. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are among several of the prominent organizations of educators to come out against these proposals, according to US News. There are more holistic and less controversial approaches safety managers can invest in, which is why teachers largely have pushed for alternative resources such as an increase in mental health resources or preparedness training.
Technology provides a simple way to empower teachers to take safety into their own hands without creating a culture of fear in the classroom. A panic button app provides a way for faculty members to communicate directly with campus safety or local law enforcement during a variety of emergencies, whether it is an active assailant, medical emergency, fire, or other situation which requires immediate assistance.
A mass notification system may also be a necessary tool for managing safety in the classroom, allowing safety managers to quickly reach faculty as an emergency develops. The tool allows campus law enforcement to reach out to faculty via SMS text, email, voice call, or social media, reaching the campus community where they are to quickly communicate the nature of the emergency. In situations where faculty may be unsure how to act, a mass notification offers the updates needed to make an informed decision regarding classroom safety.