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What Would You Do?

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Photo credit: Chris Johnson

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Written by: Communicator StaffNovember 06, 2015

“It happens and you know that it could happen on your campus,” IPFW Police Chief, Julie Yunker, said in response to the shootings on the campuses of Umpqua Community College in Oregon and Northern Arizona University earlier this month.

“I take it very seriously. I don’t think to myself, ‘Well, wait and see if it happens’ or ‘we will do something when it happens.’ I really think we need to be proactive about it.”

According to a 2013 study done by Campus Safety Magazine, “One-in-four campus police departments are not prepared to handle an active shooter,” and 46 % of departments claim to be understaffed. But universities have amped up their departments and Yunker believes that IPFW police would be prepared in the event of a campus shooting.

IPFW currently staffs 15 sworn, armed law enforcement officers.

The university has also posted “Shots Fired,” a video explaining what students and staff should do to prepare for such an event. University police also posted a survey for students about campus safety. Yunker hopes to hold multiple “open forums” about the issue by the end of next semester, although nothing has been planned yet.

According to Randy Spivey, executive director of the Center for Personal Protection and Safety, in the “Shots Fired” Video, “When you get on a plane and the crew asks you to note the nearest exit, they are not trying to create fear. They are certainly not making you afraid to fly. They are trying to make you aware … They want you to be mindful, not fearful.”

The IPFW Campus Crisis committee also hopes to incorporate more live drills to supplement the video. Yunker described this as “a more hands on approach” to emergency preparedness. She anticipates a “lockdown, active shooter type drill,” she said, although this type of drill can take up to six months to plan.

Regarding the possibility of violent acts of campus, Yunker urged students and staff to call 911 if they feel uncomfortable or witness strange behavior.

“I would rather have an overreaction than an underreaction,” she said.

President Barack Obama reacted to the recent campus shootings with his own opinion.

“We need more guns they’ll argue, fewer gun safety laws, does anybody really believe that?” he said in his speech following the aftermath of the Oregon shooting. Publicizing of these events and comments by the media has led to concerns about the issues of individual rights and safety.

“My personal belief is that this is not an issue of the gun created the crime. I think it’s the person who chooses what they’re going to do with the gun that ultimately decides the outcome of the situation,” Yunker said, although she continued to say that she is not a fan of bringing guns to IPFW’s campus.

“My concern is what some people consider trained and able to handle a firearm is different than many other people’s. My standards would be more stringent,” Yunker said.

Students have opposing opinions.

Jacob Beard, a junior at IPFW, said, “The media is making it about the guns instead of the people behind them … it is our Second Amendment right to bear arms … with more trained people with guns on campus the odds of a shooting would be less likely.”

Sandra Sabic, a sophomore at IPFW, said, “Allowing students and staff to carry weapons would just cause a big scene and scare more people.”

Currently, the possession of firearms or other weapons is considered personal misconduct according to the IPFW student handbook and is subject to disciplinary action by the university.