Preparing for a university shooting


Chico State’s Director of Environmental Health and Safety Marvin Pratt believes daily self-awareness is key to preparing for a school shooting. Photo credit: Grayson Boyer

The increase in university shootings has made preparedness for potential threats extremely important to college administrations, and Chico State is no different.

According to Chico State’s Director of Environmental Health and Safety Marvin Pratt, “One of our biggest challenges for this office is to get people thinking about preparedness.”

Pratt said that preparation is particularly difficult for Chico State.

“Nothing happens in Chico. We don’t have fires directly on campus, we don’t have earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes,” he said. “It can lull you into this (mindset that) nothing can happen. But in the world we live in, things can happen.”

According to an analysis paper on college shootings released by The Citizen’s Crime Commission of New York City, college shootings are increasing. This paper compared years 2001-2006 to 2011-2016 and reported a 153 percent increase in U.S. college shootings and a 241 percent increase in college shooting casualties.

Shooter Statistics NY Crime Commission.PNG
These statistics were gathered from university shooting incidents in the United States, during the years of 2001-06 and 2011-16.
Photo courtesy of Citizen’s Crime Commission of New York City

The administration plans on tackling student preparedness by staging an active shooter drill this semester. In the past, Chico State has conducted active shooter drills while the university was out of session, but this will be the first time a drill will be undertaken while students are in class.

“The biggest thing is self-awareness,” Pratt said. “Humans are creatures of habit. Most people will enter a building through the same door every day, they’ll walk out the same way they came in the building. The problem with that is if you’re not paying attention to your exit paths, you only have one, and if something’s blocking that…. You panic.”

The CSU system released an educational video to boost self-awareness among students, but there are concerns that these videos aren’t fully reaching students.

University Police Chief John Reid also said that UPD occasionally hosts active shooter training as well, but these are even less utilized.

“We’ve got this training that’s available, but people who are coming to the training and are engaged in the training are already 50 to 60 percent of the way there,” Reid said.

University Police Chief John Reid believes all students should strive to be more aware of their daily environments to prepare for an emergency situation.
Photo courtesy of John Reid.

“Even if (students) can say, ‘I know I’ve got Chico State Alerts, and I know what Run, Hide, Fight means,’ that’d be huge,” Reid said.

Chico State Alerts and Run, Hide, Fight are two parts of the University’s awareness campaign. Chico State Alerts is an emergency notification system that students can sign up for online, which sends them texts as soon as an emergency occurs.

“Run, Hide, Fight… those are your three real options if it’s happening,” Reid said. “You have to, based upon what’s going on around you, make a decision: Whether I’m going to run from this, whether I’m going to hide, or whether I’m going to fight.”

Not all doors on the campus can lock, so a ‘lockdown’ mentality, where one shuts the doors and hides, isn’t always possible on campus. UPD stresses the importance of situational awareness rather than hiding right away.

“The most important thing I want to tell students is if they see something, say something,” Reid said. “That doesn’t mean they have to call the police. Typically, individuals don’t snap, there’s some sort of build up. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Say something.”

Grayson Boyer can be reached by email at [email protected], or on twitter @theorion_news