by Sarah Willson and Jennifer Sanguano
Statistics have shown that there have been 19 school shootings in the United States this year alone. Central Connecticut is taking steps to make sure they do not become just another one of these numbers.
After what is now considered one of the 10 deadliest shootings in U.S. modern-day history that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, concerns have been raised about the safety measures taken on educational establishments, like CCSU, in case of a similar situation.
As a result of this, CCSU has taken it upon themselves to begin to help students and faculty understand the necessary steps they need to follow in case of an active shooter situation.
President Dr. Zulma Toro has brought it upon herself to hold “threat assessment” meetings for students on-campus, with the first one being held late last week.
“There’s never a good time to talk about some of the things we’re going to talk about today,” Vice President of Student Affairs Peter F. Troiano said at the threat assessment presentation that took place last week. “All of us, however, need to talk about these things.”
“First and foremost, if you see something, you need to say something,” Richard Bachoo, Chief Administrative Officer, said. “60 to 75 percent of the time, somebody [knows] something and [doesn’t] say it in a timely basis. It’s often the case that somebody knows something before something goes down.”
According to Bachoo, this is one of the most important, if not the most important thing, a student can do to help prevent another tragedy from occurring.
If an emergency situation were to present itself, CCSU has “emergency notification systems,” which will notify students and faculty via computer or phone.
Police Chief Gregory Sneed also emphasized the importance of the blue emergency lights, which are located strategically throughout campus. Still, Sneed said that he understands that the blue lights are not always accessible to students and faculty.
“We realize that in a critical situation, people are going to flee, [and] we know you’re not going to intentionally run to one of these blue phones,” Sneed said.
Because of this, CCSU has taken part in the LiveSafe app, which allows anyone the access to direct communication between safety officials using either call, text, picture or video. The app also tracks location, allowing police to know where someone is during the event of an emergency.
“I’m actually in love with this app. If you don’t have it, I encourage you to download it immediately,” Sneed said. “It’s like the blue [lights] on campus, but for your phone.”
Aside from this, the app lets users view all campus safety features in the event of an emergency.
“There are three things we need you to remember,” Sneed said. “Run, hide, fight.”
“If something were to happen [involving an active shooter], the first thing we want you to do is run. If you can get out, get out,” Sneed continued. “I want you to run until you can no longer see the building anymore. Chances are at that point if you can’t see the building [the shooter] probably can’t see you.”
“If you can’t run, we want you to hide and find protection. If you can’t hide, as a last resort, we want you to fight,” Sneed said. “Find a weapon, improvise it and fight until help comes.”
Despite the threat assessment presentation, some CCSU students are still unsure as to how to react in an emergency situation.
“I know that you should go to a safe place,” CCSU student Alaijah Evans said. “I don’t know what to do exactly and I would like to be informed on what to do in situations like this.”
Secondary education major David Faovo felt the same way.
“We are trained [for] lockdown procedures in the school, but here on-campus, I would have no idea of what to do other than try to cover under a desk or try to find a safe, quiet place. If there’s an active shooter I don’t know what to do,” Faovo said.
President Dr. Zulma Toro has also expressed great concern regarding the safety of CCSU students, saying that both education and heavier security measures across campus are the best possible way to combat the threat of an active shooter situation.
“[We should] bring in speakers who have gone through [active shooter situations] so we can share real experiences with these students so they have a better understanding when it comes to dealing with these situations,” Toro said.
“The other thing we’re doing is being very proactive in reaching out to students who we think are having some kind of problem, those who are not emotionally or mentally well,” Toro said. “[Because of this] we’re adding another counselor to the counseling center. We need to be proactive in terms of identifying the students with some kind of problems and get them the help they need.”
Toro also acknowledged that she understands the campus can be especially difficult to protect due to its size.
“The nature of this campus and how open it is makes some of the security measures we want to happen very difficult to implement cause of the costs,” Toro said. “I’m even considering the possibility of having some small police stations [on-campus.]”
More than anything, Toro said she empathizes with students who may be feeling concerned or on edge.
“I understand why [students] are concerned, and if they have any specific recommendations for me that they would like to see on-campus, I would like to hear from them,” Toro stated.