Small detail leaves door open for potential disaster on campus

Michael Chen, General Associate

After a discussion about gun violence in my English class of 15 people, a small concern was brought up the door of our classroom could not be locked from the inside. As we thought about it further, we discovered that such a minuscule detail could have a massive impact.

In Tulane University’s Active Shooter/Violent Intruder Guidelines, it states to “go to the closest room that can be locked … [and] close and lock all the doors and windows” in the case that there is “an active shooter is outside your building.”  Though Tulane does well in outlining common-sense protocols in these guidelines, the university can do much more in correcting some critical slights that might prove helpful if there was an active shooter on campus.

Yacob Arroyo | Contributing Artist

While Tulane does say that if  “you cannot find a secure room, look for an exit you can reach safely, moving away from the shooter” in the case that “an active shooter is inside your building,” the university disregards the complexities that those in that situation must face. Without locked doors, Tulane advises its many students to flood out classrooms, possibly creating a stampede for the exit and causing chaos in crowded hallways. Some classrooms, such as those in the basement of Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, only have one main exit, which furthers the disorientation that students face from exiting the maze of hallways in the basement.

With 114 people having been killed or injured in school shootings last year, and 28 of those killed having been students, 2018 has been labeled as the “worst year for U.S. school shootings” by many news outlets, including BBC News and The Guardian. As a result, many schools around the United States have increased the practice of active shooter drills to help prepare their students for the worst.

Amidst multiple violent examples in the past, including the University of Iowa in 1991 and Virginia Tech in 2007, many universities have issued safety guidelines for students in the case of life-threatening circumstances. They do not, however, participate in drills or promote active preparedness exercises for their students. While it is understandable that student schedules and large campuses make it more difficult in planning these events, the primary concern for universities should always be to put the safety of their students first.

Having a budget of nearly one billion dollars, Tulane certainly has enough funds to rectify this minuscule, yet alarming concern. With almost ten thousand lives at stake, the university must do its best in providing a safe and secure environment for all its students.