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Part of our college students’ everyday lives is learning how to prepare for and react in case of an emergency on campus.
Campus emergencies may be weather-related (hurricane, tornado, earthquake, winter storm, flood, mudslide) or involve serious accidents (fire) or an active shooter or other kind of attack. Colleges and universities devise emergency plans for all of these scenarios and rehearse responses with the campus community through regular drills.
Whether your student goes to school across town or across the country, you want to feel confident they know what to do in an emergency. Here’s how to talk to your student about being prepared, and where to find the information you need.
On the college/university website, search “emergency management” or “emergency preparedness.” You can also use Google — type in those words plus the name of your student’s school.
On the Emergency Management (or Preparedness) home page you can find out more about emergency response plans and procedures, how students sign up for alerts, hazards specific to the campus, personal preparedness tips and more.
Campus Emergency Management departments rehearse these scenarios with students, faculty and staff. If you would like to know more about the latest research and recommendations about how to react in these situations, you might want to read about the ALERRT (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training) Center at Texas State University. ALERRT developed a training program that is used throughout the nation and which has spun off a civilian training course called CRASE (Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events) using the “Avoid, Deny, Defend” strategy. CRASE strategies are featured in this CNN report (warning: it includes disturbing, though not graphic, references to specific mass shootings).
"Run, hide, fight" is the response detailed on a safety card that you can download from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This protocol in the case of an active shooter event will not be used by all institutions — be sure to familiarize yourself with the procedures being taught/practiced at your student's school.
In the wake of the recent school shootings, citizens and elected officials alike are debating what measures might make schools and college campuses safer. In the U.S., individual states determine whether weapons, including concealed carry, are permitted on college and university campuses.
Learn more in this article from the National Conference of Sate Legislatures, "Concealed Carry Weapon Laws and College Campuses," and be sure to research weapons regulations at your student's university (look under "Safety" on the school website). If in doubt, call the university.