On Sunday October 6, 2019, Shippensburg, PA experienced an active shooter in the area extremely close to the houses in which a great deal of students reside in. Shippensburg went into a state of “shelter and place” until the situation was cleared and the victims were recovered. The two victims of the shooting were not Shippensburg students, but the school just wanted to make sure the safety of the students was a priority. This stirred up the question, as a dash of panic waved through some Wilson students, what is Wilson’s protocol for safety in an active shooter situation. In each dorm there is a small 8×11 laminated sheet of paper with bulleted notes of what to do in various emergency situations. It does have a few safety points on what to do if a shooter was to arrive in the area vs. on campus, but that small section is not going to save our lives as students. So I sat down with Dean Marybeth Williams and Officer Sam Woodring, to discuss what students should really do in case an emergency situation occurs on campus.
Dean Mary Beth stated, “We do have a crisis response plan in place. Every student is registered for our safety alerts via text message and email. In that text a location and instructions will be given to shelter in place and be alert. It will give a location as to where the shooter is and what action is appropriate at that time.” We then continued to discuss that once the notification is received, students in residence halls should shelter in place. Shelter in place means to cover all the windows, turn off all electrical devices and make your surroundings as quiet as possible. It is smart to place something in front of the door to block any intruder form coming in. Once in the room keep door locked and stay quiet to await any further update from campus. If you are not in a place to where you can shelter in place, find a secure area that can be locked or closed off and await help from any authorities or security. If you do encounter any police or other authority figures, just obey all commands and allow them to apprehend the armed active shooter on campus. Another text will be sent via email and through messages to notify students that the situation is clear and they can come out of their safe spaces. Once all students have come out security does ask to do a head count with the authorities to make sure students are well and accounted for. To conclude the interview, Marybeth and Sam both agreed, “Our mission is to keep you safe for your time here at Wilson. In those situations it can be scary, but have faith in us that we will do everything we can and follow all of our protocols to keep you safe. So just trust Wilson.”
As a student who was troubled by the events that happened on Shippensburg’s campus Sunday night, I hope to see more safety protocols practiced in the future. Eventually to simulate this type of situation is what I think would help students understand what to do. Though it will be time consuming and hard to schedule, placing an emergency simulation in future orientation events could end up saving a life. I know after hearing that Wilson has a crisis plan in place I feel safer and I trust in our three astonishing officers; Sam Woodring, Kevin Miller and DJ Harvey to keep us safe.