The Science of Survival: Survey of Preparation for Gun Violence on Your Campus.

As we began December 2018, there was a lot of confusion erupting in social media and in particular many conservative media outlets about "hockey pucks" being given to college students and faculty at a "Michigan" university to "throw at shooters". Descriptions were of students and faculty roaming the hallways like Marines, to attack bad guys with hockey pucks. The shocking secret of the whole affair was the number on the puck, which almost no Fox media outlet ever actually explained, even though they showed a picture of the special puck. Printed in bold large font, "#33395 AUFD" What does AUFD mean anyway? 

"AUFD", Oakland University's staff, faculty and student yearly Fall fund drive. Our All-University Fund Drive, where many of us in the Oakland family choose to donate from our own paychecks into funds for good causes at our own University. Our University President even matches a large portion of our donations. These are things like: student scholarships in all fields, programs in the arts, pediatric eye disease research, memorial scholarships for students, multicultural initiatives, disability support services, public and community educational events, suicide prevention, student food-bank, autism awareness, OU's relatively new educational organic farm, and many more wonderful causes. 

Fund number #33395 was set up at the request of our faculty association so we could donate specifically to a fund for the OU-Police to use for changing the locks on our classroom doors. Why? Well, because of events like Virginia Tech and the things we have learned over the last decade about shooters in schools and universities.

Unfortunately, many of these media outlets, like Fox News, failed to actually report the true story, which they could have read about some weeks earlier (October 23, 2018) in the Oakland Post Online. That is what happens when you re-report and fail to check original sources or fail to interview the people involved in getting the pucks. I would call that "journalism 101". Some news organizations did a much better job, even the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) bothered to interview Tom Discenna, the current President of the Oakland University chapter of the American Association of University Professors. Why? Because the hockey pucks were the idea of Tom and the current OU-AAUP executive committee. 

For reasons I won't bother trying to explain here, despite requests and suggestions from faculty, it has taken about a decade to start addressing the simple change of locks on classroom doors to help students and their teachers carry out the process of Run, Hide, Fight. For anyone who is not familiar with that checklist, it is the fundamental process taught and practiced several times a year in many many high schools and grade schools in the United States. If your are an American parent of todlers who are not in school just yet, you will learn all about RunHideFight pretty soon when your kids start school. Active shooter event training from security experts, including the FBI, teach: Run, Hide, Fight. In that order. The fight is the last resort if you find yourself trapped and confronted by a person with a gun who is likely going to shoot you. You can let them shoot you, or you can fight and make it very hard for them to do so. 

In your work office or in a classroom, whether alone or in a group, you throw the hardest and heaviest stuff you can at the shooter and you tackle them. You sit on them, kick them, hit them and you do not stop until they have no control of their gun. Then you keep sitting on them, arms, legs, body, head until your Police arrive. Our University's Police Force is well trained. However, things like classroom and office door locks that can be quickly locked on the inside can buy police more time to neutralize the shooter and minimize loss of life.

Is my University at some level embarrassed to be in the Fox news media spotlight? Yes, I suppose that it is, but in reality, Oakland University is NOT alone among campuses that still have many classroom doors that cannot be quickly locked from INSIDE the classroom. Fox news went off on some weird agenda and in doing so got the purpose of the pucks completely wrong. However, that said, as a boy who grew up in Canada using real hockey pucks without pads on, I can guarantee you that pucks can hurt like hell when they hit you in almost any part of your head or body. You can hold a puck in even a tiny hand, and when you do, this 98-cent educational awareness tool reminds the holder about Run, Hide, Fight. 

I have not seen any comments from other universities about Oakland University's hockey pucks, because I suspect that many college administrators around the United States are quietly checking out the old style locks on their own classroom doors, and hoping the local TV station does not come to check out their classroom doors for a story.  

So, what is the status of campus preparation where you went to college or where your children go now? If an active shooter is coming down the hallway, does your kid's professor have to fumble with a key on the hallway side of the door so they can barricade inside the room, because its too late to Run? Do their professors keep the door locked and propped open with a book, or puck, so students can come and go to the bathroom? With 70% of your kid's professors being only part-time workers in 2018, who often lack an office on campus and even their own keys to the classroom, can they relock the door? What if your students have to hide in a classroom without a teacher around to lock the door? Can they lock it quickly from inside by turning a latch? Do students get training in active shooter response  like they did when they were in High School?

It is all fine and dandy for Fox news anchors, Facebook users, and Twitterites older than 30 to ridicule the hockey pucks, but none of us older than 30 understand what it is like to practice run, hide and fight, several times a year in our high schools. So talk to your under 30 Children, and ask them how it feels to practice these drills. If they are in college, ask them if they still practice active-shooter drills in college. The answer to the last question for many campuses in this country is going to be NO. 

SURVEY SAYS...

That brings you and me to an obvious question. What is the status of preparation, both physical and training, on our college campuses today for active shooters? Well, we need data and to get the data we need a survey. Turns out, we have a survey going right now. :) As a professor and scientist, and a concerned Dad of current college students, I activated an anonymous online survey for students, faculty, and staff of college and university campuses to report the answers for their campus. The goal is to provide a simple snapshot of how our campus compares with others around the country. 

If you want to do the survey yourself or help out by sending it to a student or employee you know of a University or College, you can link to the survey here:

Survey of Preparation for Active Shooter events at Universities and Colleges

Or copy and share this short URL:

https://goo.gl/forms/H2YzoqiLhQvrQeuk1

This survey takes about 2 minutes, or less, and the participant's identity will remain anonymous. They will need to provide a college email address to ensure they are valid participants and also so they can be sent an additional information sheet in return for their participation. That information sheet is a summary of how one university in the United States made important changes to deal with the dangers of gun violence on campus. Yes, Virginia Tech, a University that took up the challenge of making their University community safer for even the situation of active shooters. Not only how they have changed their doors and locks, but also how they have invested in preventing persons with mental illness from falling through the cracks. Steering them to help, and more importantly not forgetting about them, nor rejecting them from the community. The truth is that in 2018, if you wanted to send you Children to one of the most well-prepared campuses in the country, you would send them to Virginia Tech.

Students, faculty, and staff, who live and work on our college campuses are done waiting for our institutions to get on the ball and make the required changes. As a parent of college students, I am pleased that my Faculty Association and our Student Congress decided to get the train rolling on classroom door locks. My older children will get at least one term of better doors before they graduate and our freshmen students will hopefully be better prepared. There is still more to do on my campus and most campuses in the United States. To catch up to Virginia Tech, we need to give mandatory active shooter training to every new student and staff member, so everyone knows the plan in an adrenaline surging emergency. Scary, emergency events need to be practiced. The first practice cannot be the first time for real.

So I say good for Oakland University. If your kids come here, there are hundreds of professors and thousands of students busy working on making our campus just a little bit safer than it was yesterday. I was happy to pitch in a little cash into AUFD fund #33395 this year. If you want to find out more about your kid's campus, give them this survey link:

https://goo.gl/forms/H2YzoqiLhQvrQeuk1

If you want to learn more about Run, Hide, Fight, check out these examples on YouTube. I know the idea is hard to think about, but no harder than thinking about our children practicing active shooter drills in grade school and high school. 

FBI Run Hide Fight Video at Billboard


Run, hide, fight: Police stress key tips during mass shooting scenario




Sincerely,

Ken Mitton
a Professor at Oakland University
and a concerned parent of college students.

Postscript 12-14-2018. Oakland University's staff and faculty donated $576,921 to the All University Fund Drive. Record number of donors: 1,163. 

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