Monday, August 1, 2011

Yet Another Pillbox

This time to prevent school shootings...

In the middle of another article on the essential nature of corporate safe rooms our prolific writer raises the important - but unrelated - topic of protecting students, faculty, and staff from "school shooters." I've expressed my opinions elsewhere regarding the examples the author uses to promote corporate and residential safe rooms, but in the interest of critical thinking as applied to our profession and in the spirit of peer review, I feel it is important to respond to these comments as well.

“Recent shootings at Virginia Tech and the University of Alabama prove this point: that sudden violence can strike anywhere, exposing teenagers and adults to a murderous rampage. At the University of Alabama, where a biology professor killed three colleagues during a faculty meeting, this threat is now another statistic in the expanding catalogue of campus violence.”

The 2010 University of Alabama in Huntsville shooting occurred in a during a faculty meeting. The shooter and all her victims were seated at the same table. Of what use is a safe room if the shooter is already inside it with you?

“The same is true for Virginia Tech, where 32 people died in a massacre staged by a twenty-three-year-old student. These shootings are part of a bigger problem, a situation where inadequate security – and the lack of a safe-space to protect at least some of these victims from an armed invader – leads to more and more bloodshed. The same is true for workplace violence in general: the lack of safe room means no one – not a single person – can seek refuge from a killer.”

There are simpler solutions which make more efficient use of limited funds. If the doors to each classroom had been the sort that is easily and quickly locked the death toll at Virginia Tech would have been much lower.

“Remarkably, most if not all of the nation’s colleges and universities do not have safe rooms to guard against these shootings. This sort of negligence is unacceptable in an environment where campus violence is predictable. That is, shootings are no longer an anomaly; and failure to have a safe-space for faculty and/or students leaves these people vulnerable to attack.”

Shootings at schools and college campuses remain very much an anomaly. Active shooters – whether at school or work – are even more rare. They may be foreseeable in specific cases, but failure to build safe rooms is scarcely proof of negligence.

“Think of the alternative, a situation where people could quickly enter a safe room and protect themselves from a killer. This scenario is, sadly, still only a hypothetical because colleges and universities have not made a true investment in safeguarding students and faculty from violence.”

Most schools and colleges need only add easily operated locks to their classroom doors to create substantial protection for students, faculty, and staff against a gunman prowling the hallways. There is more to a school safety program than locks of course, and it's best we preserve the resources required for education, communication, and incident mitigation.