Campus Safety develops new emergency plan
On the morning of Oct. 1, Umpqua Community College, an Oregon school of 3,041 full-time students, went under fire. Christopher Harper-Mercer, a student of the college, went into a classroom and fatally shot nine people.
The community college that sits on 100 acres outside of the Roseburg, Ore. community is similar to Lee's 106-acre campus easily accessible to the Cleveland community, whose population is almost double of Roseburg's.
Under the Dangerous Weapons Policy, Lee's staff handbook states 'Possession, display, or storage of a dangerous weapon, including but not limited to firearms, ammunition, destructive devices, dangerous chemicals, fireworks, knives, swords, or martial arts weaponry is prohibited on property owned or controlled by Lee University. This policy involves the prohibition of the above-referenced items on or in university property and facilities, including but not limited to academic buildings, athletic and recreation facilities, administrative offices, university housing, university parking areas, university streets, and university vehicles. It also applies to private vehicles parked or operated on university owned or controlled property.'
This is similar to Umpqua's policy, as the school is a gun free zone as well. However, because of a 1989 Oregon law, it is forbidden for any public body except for the Legislature to restrict the rights of people with a concealed-carrier permit, meaning that anyone with the concealed license can bring a gun on campus.
CNN reported that six firearms were found on the college campus on the morning of the Umpqua shooting.
As mass shootings are increasing and the threat on college campuses is growing, Campus Safety is taking action and notice.
A Campus Emergency Plan was implemented in 2008, detailing what would happen in the event of any emergency disaster pertaining to an active shooter, a weather incident or a fire.
Director of Campus Safety Matt Brinkman said 'We have two plans that we are developing. When I came last year, we saw the need to update [the 2008 Campus Emergency Plan] because of new buildings and the way the campus has changed in the past few years. So what we're doing currently is we're working with Bradley County EMA to develop an updated comprehensive plan that is not only for campus, as far as new buildings, but also to make sure that it goes a little deeper and outlines things a little more fluidly and is a little more easier to read.'
Brinkman said that they are in the process of creating a condenser plan for emergency situations. It is 12 pages long and they are hoping to have them readily available by placing them in offices, dorms and buildings across campus.
'It's like a quick reference guide,' he said.
Brinkman said that, to his knowledge, there has never been an instance of an armed student on Lee's campus.
However, if an emergency situation were to take place, the IT department has a text alert system that notifies students and staff of the situation through text, e-mail and the television bulletins around campus.
Brinkman said that the location of a student or staff member depends on what action should be taken the notification of a potentially dangerous situation is sent out.
'If you were in the building that the active shooter was, the first thing you want to do'if you could'is to leave the building. If you cannot do so safely, barricade yourself. Turn off all of the lights. Put furniture in front of the door, and notify campus security or the police department. Of course if all else fails, if the active shooter attempts to get in, then by all means do everything you can to fight them off with whatever tools or weapons you can find laying around,' he said.
Brinkman also said that Campus Safety strives to make students feel safe on campus by taking a multi-level approach. The first level they implement is creating an officer presence with officers patrolling lots and walking through buildings and making contact with students.
"That lets you know that there are people around willing to help and willing to take action," he said.
Campus Safety installed 17 high resolution cameras in the past year, which can be monitored live and are recorded on a 30-day loop.
"We also work well with local law enforcement. We're constantly communicating with them, getting updates from them about anything going on in the area that we need to be aware of," Brinkman said.
Sophomore Nicole Quince said "Just being on campus makes me feel safe."