BY COLLEEN COYLE – STAFF WRITER
It’s 12:45 PM and you’re in Crounse 312, you sit back in your chair as Dr.Tubb yells excitedly about accountant Robert Clive. You feel your phone buzz. As per usual, you ignore the buzz, it happens all the time, but then you notice that everyone’s phone has buzzed, not just yours. Dr. Tubb pauses, his phone is buzzing too. Eventually someone glances at their screen, and their face goes white. Their voice shakes as they announce “it’s a notice from DPS, there is an active shooter situation on campus.” Dr. Tubb rushes to the door and uses the lockdown key to secure the door. You and the other students quietly slip from your chairs, under the table, hearts pounding. You peer at the small glass window in the door, and a figure appears.
While this situation might seem far-fetched when we consider our familiar community and geographically small space, this situation has been real for far too many students across the nation. While it’s easy to dismiss the mass school shootings that have swept across our nation as irrelevant to our campus, we are actively prepared to deal with exactly this situation. This is a threat that we, as a Centre community, can’t dismiss as impossible – especially considering how easy it is for shooters to obtain firearms. In Kentucky, it isn’t necessary to have a permit of any kind to purchase a handgun, rifle, or shotgun. Under current national laws, our campus – just like every campus that has been affected by these events – is vulnerable to such traumatically violent events.
In recognition of this, Centre has developed plans to address such a situation if it occurs on campus. Garry Bugg, Director of Public Safety at Centre, noted that these precautions have already been used here at Centre during the triple homicide that occurred at ABC Gold, Games and More pawn shop on fourth street in 2013. Centre was placed on lockdown, and students and faculty were told to stay in place until the shooter at the pawn shop had been apprehended.
Although this occurrence didn’t happen on campus, it certainly demonstrates that our community is not immune to the effects of gun violence. Gary Bugg noted the importance of mass notification, “the one thing we are really developing is a way to notify every student if an active shooter situation occurred so that we can lock buildings down as quickly as possible.” Bugg also noted that DPS can revoke student access cards if they fall into the hands of the wrong people. However, it is important to note that our DPS officers are not first responders, and in the event of an emergency such as this, they would defer to the Danville police department.
While our DPS department has worked hard to ensure campus safety, even holding an active shooter drill this past semester, the question remains, what if we didn’t have to? What if our reality shifted, so that the question isn’t what do we do to respond to a crisis, but rather, how do we prevent one? One small but impactful form of prevention is anonymous reporting. The Live Safe app, which Centre now offers for student use has all the information a student needs to report suspicious or concerning behavior in other students. Centre is not exempt from these questions, and we should be having these conversations so that a tragedy, such as the hypothetical above, never comes to pass.