UO student and ASUO Executive notice lag in campus safety

A University of Oregon student and several ASUO Executive members are on a mission to add locks on doors and provide faculty, staff and graduate teaching fellows with training sessions in order to protect their classrooms.

Sydney McBride once felt unsafe attending class in Deady Hall when she saw a “sketchy man” wandering around the building.

“What if that man decided to go into the building and do something crazy?” McBride said. “I have never been told what to do if that happens.”

When the Umpqua Community College shooting happened, McBride decided to take action. She, with the support from ASUO Executive, formed a campus safety campaign.

They met with Enterprise Risk Services, a committee that provides guidance in emergency cases like “fire and life safety, environmental management, risk management, emergency management and business continuity,” according to its website.

The team found unsettling facts about campus safety protocol.

ASUO Director of Staff Casey Edwards said that the university does not “have a particular plan in place” in case of active shooters.

In response to the shooting at UCC, the UO sent a video link from Enterprise Risk Services to demonstrate a “run, hide, fight” strategy.

“[Enterprise Risk Services] suggested that students have to fight back if they cannot run or hide,” Edwards said.

Students should throw laptops and books or spread out in a circle around the shooter, according to the video.

Edwards said many students feel uneasy about this, saying the strategy is impractical.

On Nov. 3, campus safety campaign held a public forum with six panelists from different backgrounds to discuss campus safety.

At the forum, Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation President Shawna Meechan said she felt unprepared when a student had a medical emergency in her class.

“Zero, zero, zero training on this,” Meechan said. “I was only sent a link to a webpage that basically said the university will send out a text message or email.”

Campus Operation personnel, Johnny Earl said new and renovated buildings can be shut down with remotes, but in most classrooms, students cannot block entrances because doors do not have locks and tables and chairs cannot be moved.

The team also talked with UO President Michael Schill about its campaign.

“He is very open about [campus safety],” Edwards said. “This is an on-going conversation.”

With the support from ASUO Senate, the campus safety campaign is going to a University Senate meeting Dec. 1.

Since the forum, the campaign received an overwhelming amount of feedback from the student body, McBride said.

Journalism professor Courtney Munther developed an “escape plan” with her students after the UCC shooting. Munther said she will continue to disseminate instructions to her students in the coming months.

Due to the lack of school-wide safety initiatives, International student Chenjing Lyu said she’s worried and reconsidering attending the university.

“Mass shootings in schools are never a problem back [in China],” Lyu said. “I can’t concentrate on studying when I feel unsafe on campus all the time.”

Campus safety has been the constant concern over the years, McBride said. But until now, it did not have enough attention to make a change.

“We want to build a coalition group to keep working on the issue years later,” McBride said.

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Tran Nguyen

Tran Nguyen