What’s the plan?

Adding emergency information to syllabuses would better prepare us all.

by Aditi Pradeep

Many students, faculty and staff received text alerts yesterday about an armed man seen in Anderson Hall. Students frantically spoke with classmates, updated Facebook statuses and sent texts to friends, but did we really know what to do in an emergency situation on campus?

Since 1980, 39 shootings have killed 101 people on college campuses nationwide, according to a 2012 Slate report. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Grambling State University saw shootings this year. Campus gun violence is a legitimate fear, and the University of Minnesota could do more to prepare students.

When today’s college students were young, we had clear instructions of what to do in an emergency. We had drills, plans and diagrams. In grade school, we spent days learning where we needed to go in an emergency and how to get there.

I understand the University is a large school with multiple campuses. It’s far more difficult to contain a threat in a big and complex area. However, the school could take some additional precautions.

On the first day of class, teachers bombard students with similar information about plagiarism, disability services and excused absences. These things are repeated in every class because they’re so important.

What if we added crisis information? Could we have a brief description of how to handle emergencies along with due dates and assigned readings?

The University alerts yesterday said to “shelter in place,” but it’s not exactly clear what that means. Did the alerts excuse us from class? What if my class was in Anderson Hall? What does “shelter in place” even entail?

It’s unlikely there will be a shooting at the University, but it’s still important to be prepared and informed.

While no alert system can reach everyone on or near campus, changing syllabuses or other campus texts would be a step toward educating students, faculty and staff. A small discussion could save lives. At the very least, this education would reassure everyone in the University community.