Ahead of Higher Ed: Shootings raise awareness of university preparedness

On Tuesday, Purdue University was left in disarray after a student shot and killed another student in its electrical engineering building.

“This appears to be an isolated and intentional act,” Purdue police chief John Cox said to CNN. “The victim appeared to have been targeted by the suspect, and it was no more and no less than that.”

But whether it is a targeted victim or a crazed shooting spree, college campuses have become a recurring site of this violence or a site of falsely reported violence.

On Wednesday, the University of Oklahoma went into lockdown after active shooter reports that turned out to be false, according to ABC News.

The Houston area is not immune to the trend, as a year ago a verbal disagreement between two men on the Lone Star College north Harris County campus escalated when a man pulled out a gun and fired shots, accidently hitting himself. No one was killed.

The entire Virginia Tech campus mourned after the loss of 33 students in the so-called massacre of 2007.  |  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The entire Virginia Tech campus mourned after the loss of 33 students in the 2007 shooting. | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Since the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, which is considered to be the most deadly university campus shooting — 33 people were killed, including the shooter — university shootings have seemingly increased to where these reports of shootings, true or false, are almost a weekly occurrence. From January to April in 2013 alone, the Huffington Post counted 13 shootings on or near a college campus.

In response to the increased incidents, campuses have been increasing their police preparation in case something similar happens closer to home.

In January 2013, Campus Safety Magazine published a study that showed one in four college campuses are not prepared to respond to an active shooter, saying that campus police departments are understaffed.

UH, on the other hand, has a plan in place, which can be viewed online.

“The University of Houston Police Department routinely prepares for active-shooter situations, bomb threats and other emergency situations,” said UH Police Chief Ceaser Moore.

UHPD recommends being conscientious and prepared in the case of an active shooter.

“In the event of an emergency on campus, students, faculty and staff should follow the instructions they receive through our Emergency Alert System, try to remain calm and be alert and aware of their surroundings.”

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