Active shooter training draws mixed reviews from students

Juliette Lopez

In the wake of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill last fall, the Office of Residence Life and Public Safety at Chatham University held an active shooter training assembly earlier this semester in the Campbell Memorial Chapel.

This assembly was followed up with training sessions in each residential hall.

“The goal of the training was to provide residents with information and strategies they could employ if they find themselves in an active shooter incident either on or off-campus,” said Shawn McQuillan, Director of Residence Life. “Ultimately, this training is effective in ensuring residents are aware of what they can and should do in an active shooter incident.”

Several students had mixed feelings about the training sessions.

“I think that it was not taken seriously by the students or staff,” Walker Orner ’21. “Also the whole situation was not properly talked about in terms of what actually happened [which was a hate crime against the local Jewish population]. Context is very important for how students feel in terms of safety, especially the Jewish students.”

Others felt that the assembly in the chapel lacked enough detail about what to do in an active-shooter situation on campus.

“The event in the chapel seemed very rushed,” said Marco Nakich ’20. “I didn’t really learn anything that I wouldn’t have already assumed.”

McQuillan said this was not his or his colleagues’ intent. “It is disappointing and definitely not the kind of feedback we want to hear. I am sure these comments and other feedback received will be taken to heart and future training will be of the highest quality.”

Looking forward to the future, James Madison, an officer in Public Safety, wishes to have this type of training more often.

“My goals with active shooter training at Chatham University is to have every student, faculty and staff member have yearly training in the classroom for one hour, with no more than 40 students, and that Chatham will have at least one active shooter drill per semester,” Madison said.

Along with more frequent training, Madison finds it essential to test the OMNILERT system every semester and for all students to be enrolled in it in the event of an on-campus emergency.