As we progress into the 2023-2024 academic year it is reasonable to question the challenges we may encounter. Those questions may be related to establishing good study strategies, getting an on-campus job, balancing schoolwork and a social life. However, amidst these common concerns, an unsettling question looms for some: How safe are we on our college campus?
In the past two decades, gun violence in schools has become a growing concern. The recent tragic incident at the University of North Carolina serves as a stark reminder of this unsettling trend, further deepening the sense of desensitization, where such incidents are tragically becoming just another traumatizing day for students.
“Are you safe? Where are you? Are you alone?” said the Daily Tar Heel’s front page in the days following the shooting. The messages between students locked down in classrooms to their family and friends are always the same: barricade the door, stay quiet, I love you and be safe. This is clearly an unfortunate reality for American students and faculty today.
In this unsettling climate, both students and faculty are compelled to contemplate their readiness to survive such an ordeal. While lockdown drills are a standard practice in elementary and high schools, they are notably absent from college campuses. Nonetheless, most college students have, through social media, personal experiences, drills, or news coverage, familiarized themselves with tactics for self-preservation within the classroom. It has become part of our education to equip ourselves with these skills, just in case.
Sacred Heart University exudes an aura of safety from its medium size, happiest student ranking, dispersal of academic buildings and safety measures put in place. According to a statement from the university, safety is their number one concern with 45 officers dedicated to the safety of SHU students. However, the presence of public safety officers may not eliminate the underlying tension in the classroom.
“I don’t think campus safety would be able to prevent it from happening. There is front entrance security but they never stop people or make students show ID. They have no idea who is on campus and if they should be there. There are some buildings that require you to scan in, but there are some that do not,” said Elizabeth Bickett, a junior psychology major at SHU.