OPINION: DePaul is ill prepared for an active shooter situation

America has been riddled with gun violence increasingly year after year, according to data recorded by the FBI. Incidences happening in churches, universities, concerts or even in schools. Regardless of its frequency, no one can truly be prepared for such a tragedy to occur. When and where it will happen next will always be unclear and the sense of panic people face is everlasting. 

After hearing of the most recent mass shooting that made headlines on Feb.16, at Michigan State University (MSU), concerns were once again raised for college students in terms of their safety and apprehensions in if their school would be next. What’s even more worrisome, is that whenever there is a new shooting that comes into light in the media, many more follow en suite in a domino effect. 

“I’m from a city an hour away from East Lansing called Grand Rapids and during the times I visited the MSU campus I never felt threatened, it felt like home,” said Bella Kamp, a DePaul International Studies freshmen.

She aired her concerns over the recent news, having friends and fellow high school alumni who are currently studying in MSU or attended the university in the past. 

“Despite feeling safe at DePaul, hearing the news of this recent incident further proves that we can never really truly prepare for these types of things because they’re so prevalent and unexpected,” Kamp said.

Many Americans, with focus on youth education and children’s well-being nationwide, have an increasing anxiety surrounding lockdowns or active shooters arising out of the blue at their school at any given moment. Students remain wondering if they will get there and back home safely everyday.

Both in high school and with my time as a DePaul student, whenever I walk to class and sit in a classroom, I always check the exits and how many windows there are. I never go anywhere without my phone and make sure my location is on. 

When I am not paying attention to the lecture or class discussion, I am worrying about the ways I could escape the location I am in on campus and what that would look like. This thought process of an immediate unknown danger is something many other students think heavily about. 

When taking a look at DePaul’s official website and going to the official emergency plan, the three main takeaways from this section are “run, hide, and fight.” Is this enough? 

“Even if there were more established guidelines or drills I still wouldn’t feel ready or prepared,” said senior Clare Brady.

There are phone numbers and resources listed for students and faculty should they need to get outside help immediately. The practicality and physicality of dealing with an abrupt threat remains imminent. Another concern here is that there are no maps of the exits in the university’s buildings in this section on safety. 

What’s more, having drills or even having each professor announce exits and strategies before each class could help ease stress and provide helpful information should something unlikely happen in the duration of a class. 

When it comes to mental health issues and resources for students with disabilities and mental health issues, DePaul has struggled to obtain a good standing. The university is unable to give its students the adequate support they need to succeed in an educational sense. Many college students find themselves struggling with depression, loneliness and suicidal ideation. Accommodations, counseling, check-ins with faculty members, or even time-off are some of the most needed requirements to help students stay afloat during troubling times. 

After reports of yet another mass shooting, it is dire that schools like DePaul not only make a statement about the event with simple ‘thoughts and prayers,’ but rather through physical action, physical changes. They must be implemented to help strengthen the relationships and atmosphere of members of both campuses in order to consistently ensure safety. Students should not have to worry about what ‘Exits’ to look for and take time away from their education to guarantee protection of themselves and their peers. 

It is necessary for an institution such as this Catholic school, to show support for every young adult to the fullest extent. Once college students begin to feel like they are not being taken care of in the place where they are paying generous amounts of tuition for a great education, they begin to break away and experience severe isolation and mistrust. 

This, mixed with a minuscule and futile plan for an active shooter emergency, serves as a catalyst for disaster.

“I don’t think I’m the only one with this looming fear walking around campus that a shooting could happen here at DePaul, or anywhere else I go,” Brady said.   

Now, this doesn’t mean this is the indefinite future for this university or any other. If more attention is put on this problem and action is taken to help protect students, faculty and staff at all costs from an on campus shooting, the outcome could change tremendously and the DePaul community could begin to feel a greater sense of comfort in walking to and from both campuses. Hotlines should be present on a board in each classroom and in each syllabus for every class as well for easy access to outside resources. 

Wellness Wednesdays must be further advertised to members of this institution. Other resources are present on DePaul’s official website under ‘Health & Wellness,’ and require increased attention upon having on-site, physical security could help as well. 

“Safety could be magnified by having security guards in each building on campus. It would be beneficial for students to be more aware of the emergency protocols too,” Kamp said. 

Emergency buttons are dispersed over the campus grounds already along with immediate alerts from DPU in emails and through text messages. 

Procedures for this unlikely event are currently superficial and lack substance. Many students are unaware that the above resources are even available at all. These are just some ways that DePaul could help prevent a tragedy as staggering as the one that occurred at MSU from ever happening in this school. 

Our love and support goes out to the students and families of MSU. These mass shootings should not be a reoccurring or unexpected threat to communities, especially universities such as DePaul.