Picture this scenario – an alleged gunman is only one block from campus, and there’s virtually no immediate media coverage. The only information available is coming from random Facebook statuses of concerned students. It seems like the kind of situation that warrants the use of a text message alert system. Apparently not.
As we all know by now, shots were allegedly fired last Wednesday night, Feb. 6, in the 1100 block of Mechanic Street near campus. No one was injured. The suspect was arrested. All’s well that ends well. The greater concern, in hindsight, is that Emporia State students were left in the dark for so long.
Our phones were eerily silent during the ordeal. Rave, an opt-in emergency alert system provided by the university, was not activated at all. Why?
Bulletin staffers sat in our office speculating, like many students, about what had happened. Was the shooter still at large? Was this the beginning of a mass shooting? Despite our very best efforts, the answers simply weren’t coming. Perhaps that’s why no one was notified through Rave. Everyone was guessing and no one wanted to panic.
Shootings are always confusing and never predictable. We now know that Rave was not activated because the alleged gunfire apparently wasn’t a big enough concern to warrant it. Even so, there should be procedures in place to quell the panic and hysteria associated with events like these, even if Rave isn’t “necessary.” Something as simple as a Buzz-In announcement could have helped worried – even panicked – students sleep a little easier last Wednesday night. It was inconsequential this time, but The Bulletin won’t rest so easy.
It is imperative that Information Technology and campus police review their reaction to this incident. Will they be ready when and if something like this happens again?
Being tight lipped about these types of incidents, regardless how seemingly inconsequential, is not only irresponsible to the students at potential risk, it also makes wild speculation the norm. Even a statement as benign as “no information is known to authorities at this time” would shut down rampant conjecture at its source.
We cannot afford to be caught off guard in emergency situations. We must use the tools we are given to ensure the safety of everyone at ESU.
It is disappointing and disconcerting that our leadership is not addressing this scenario for what it represents, a dangerous situation amplified by the fog of miscommunication. It’s time to speak on it – better late than never.