Most UVU students are not prepared for an active shooter scenario. According to the UVU event calendar website, an active shooter training session was scheduled to happen Jan. 11 at the main lecture hall in the Fulton Library. What the event lacked were organizers, speakers and an engaged audience.
The event description stated, “Campus safety is everyone’s responsibility. This monthly training provides the campus community with the knowledge and tools to respond to concerning behaviors, from individuals in distress to active shooters.”
Lincoln Op’t Hof was the only person who sat in the lecture hall waiting for the event to start.
“It’s shameful,” said Op’t Hof, junior communication major and former Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. “With the prevalence, frequency and occurrence of violence in schools around the country, it’s shameful that even the presenter didn’t show up. Utah is not immune to this epidemic.”
Acording to Lieutenant Liddiard of the UVU Police Department, at least one training seminar is planned per month. However, no advertisements are visible around campus.
In the last two years, active shooter trainings have spiked across the nation.
Everytown, an organization that compiles data on all instances of firearm use on school grounds from preschools to universities, reported an unprecedented 23 on-campus shootings in 2015. Everytown reported 18 firearm related incidents at colleges and universities in 2016. In nine of the cases, the shooters used their weapons with intent to do harm. In nine of the cases, the use of firearms was due to negligence.
“Students are not prepared to handle such situations,” said Tanesha Bland, sophomore nursing student and current Miss UVU. “Whether an incident occurs on or off campus, as a learning institution and a member of the community, UVU should be active in offering its students education for active shooter scenarios.”
Students at UVU have varied viewpoints on how to handle an active shooter situation.
“I would return fire,” said Alan Richardson, sophomore criminal justice major at UVU. Richardson’s background includes eight years of combat arms training and experience in the United States Army.
Nicole Sutherland and Kate Williams, freshmen forensic science and criminal justice majors at UVU said they would seek shelter and call the police. Williams said she hopes she would be able to escort people to safety.
“I would hide, since I can’t carry a concealed weapon yet,” said Sutherland. She intends to carry a concealed weapon as soon as she is legally able. According to the official UVU Police Department website, UVU only allows concealed fire permit holders to possess their concealed firearm on campus.
Students aren’t the only ones that aren’t prepared for an active shooter situation. “I know they conduct training,” said Erika Wilkes employee of the UVU cashier’s office. “But to my knowledge, no training is required for employees.”
More concerning than the university’s lack of active shooter training is the level of student interest.
“The people who need it most probably wouldn’t attend a training seminar,” said Bryson Webb, junior emergency services major at UVU. “I wouldn’t do a one-hour class.”
“People don’t want to think about it,” said Dave O’Bryant, junior environmental science and management student at UVU. “It’s like a bad economy, most people would rather ignore the possibility than face what scares them.”
In the event of a campus emergency, effective communication with those in danger is critical. UVU has an e-mail and text alert system established to accomplish this task. While the campus community might receive important alerts through a campus e-mail, it is not default or mandatory for students to sign up for the university’s text notification system.
Originally published in print and online at The Review