Originally written for publishing on May 13, 2013.
Students were locked in their classrooms at 10:15 last Thursday morning for the first ever Fullerton College Active Shooter Drill.
Campus Safety was spread throughout the school, evacuating the Quad after the automatic doors locked at 10:16 a.m., one minute after the lock down drill began.
Campus Safety and Student Services organized the event that included the entire campus.
Some classes have doors with automatic locking mechanisms.
Students were locked in their classrooms for approximately 30 minutes and anyone who arrived late was instructed to go to the North Gym or room 224 for the screening of “Shots Fired on Campus”, an instructional training video on what to do and how to respond in case of a shooter on campus.
Instructors locked in their classrooms were encouraged to play the video for their students as well, though some chose, or were unable to participate in the viewing due to technological issues.
“There were instructions given to all of the faculty, as well as all the staff and managers that during the duration of the lock down, everybody was to watch the video,” explained Claudette Dain, Interim Vice President of Student Services.
A text message from the Emergency Alert System was supposed to be sent out to all those who opted-in to the texts, but some students didn’t receive the notification.
“I signed up for the text message alert system on MyGateway, but I never received one. Were they sent out to students? I know my professor received one, but no one else in the classroom did,” wrote Jesus Aguilar-Lazo, who chose to utilize the school Facebook page to provide his feedback.
“It could be that they’re not opted-in, because it worked, I mean, because some did […] maybe if [they] got a new phone number. So, they should just go to MyGateway and opt-in,” Dr. Toni Dubois, Vice President of Student Services said.
Students in the gym were given a feedback form to complete and return to the desk in the back of the room for review by Campus Safety.
“I think [the drill] is useful. It’s good to be thinking that you need to be in a survival mode. It’s good to know how you can prepare because there’s a chance it could happen to you” said student Samantha Palmer.
Many students were unhappy with the planning and execution of the exercise, including some students familiar with guns being fired; the campus veterans.
“I think it was poorly executed. It was not conducive to understanding what it’d be like in a real shooting, at all.” said Derek McGraw, a 27-year-old veteran who echoed the opinions of some of his comrades.
“The odds of being involved in a situation like this are similar to your chances of being struck by lightning,” explained in the instructional video.
“Haven’t you learned how to avoid being struck by lightning? Don’t we still all not to go stand on a mountaintop with our umbrella during a lightning storm?[…] You still prepare” DuBois said in response to the video.
Fullerton Police Department was criticized by both students and faculty for their lack of presence on campus during the drill.
“Separate from what the students and faculty were going through with their drill, there was a separate piece of that to how campus safety interacted with Fullerton [Police Department]… after the drill, they actually spent a fair amount of time here talking and looking around […] to just talk about it,” said Dain.
A new strategy already being implemented in cooperation between Campus Safety and the Fullerton PD is “911 envelopes” which is essentially a collection of envelopes with detailed campus maps, as well as a set of keys for each building, and a map of each particular building and its rooms.
Feedback from the drill is welcomed, and the Student Services Department encourages those with constructive criticisms to communicate that with them so they can learn from the experience and be able to improve the drill the next time one takes place.
“If you had opted-in you would have gotten a text message […] we would put it on our Facebook page, we would post it on Twitter, we would send it out to a mass email to the students and we would post it on MyGateway,” said DuBois.
Students are highly encouraged to keep the Campus Safety emergency phone number in their cell phones and to maintain a valid email address on MyGateway in order to receive emergency texts and emails.
Campus Safety’s emergency line can be reached at (714) 992-7777