The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

College violence prompts questions about SMU

Last year’s shooting massacre at Virginia Tech, in which 32 students and teachers were killed while sitting in classrooms, sent a shockwave through college campuses around the country.

Many college students are scared of the possibility of what could happen on campus, a place that used to be considered a safe haven for students no longer living at home. What is SMU doing to prevent this growing trend in tragedy from happening on the Hilltop?

Just last month five students were killed and 16 injured before the shooter took his own life at Northern Illinois University. Earlier this month, Lauren Burk, a freshman at Auburn University, was found murdered on the side of a highway just a mile off campus. Only hours later authorities found Eve Carson, the student body president at the University of North Carolina, shot dead on a street close to campus.

Mimsy Brewster, a sophomore at SMU, was concerned about these recent reports. “Those murders just hit a little too close to home. Those girls were just like you and me, and it just makes you think, could something like that ever happen here?” Brewster said.

Students are aware of the brightly colored flyers placed all over campus to notify students and staff of potential danger. But Courtney Dwight, a junior at SMU, fears these flyers won’t be enough.

“In the event of a real emergency, those flyers aren’t really going to do anything to protect us. They might tell us about it, but it would be too little too late by then,” said Dwight.

Police Chief Rick Shafer claims SMU has done much more to prevent danger than just put up flyers. Chief Shafer wants to assure students that the school is well prepared in the event of an active shooter on campus.

“The officers have gone through extensive simulation training and know how to quickly and adequately respond to an emergency situation,” Chief Shafer said.

The SMU Police Department recently received a grant for $95,000 from the Department of Homeland Security to buy additional equipment that would be used in the event of an on-campus emergency. With the help of equipment the police department already has, and the equipment they will soon be purchasing with this grant, SMU is prepared to aggressively take down an active shooter.

According to SMU’s emergency management Web site, SMU has also partnered with all of the necessary responding agencies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Through this partnership SMU will have the means and backup to better handle an emergency situation on campus.

Like Dwight, many students worry about how they will be quickly notified in the event of an emergency, and Chief Shafer says the school has the means, but it is up to the students to make sure they get the message.

SMU has a system called Send Word Now, and through this system students can receive text and voicemail messages to quickly notify students and faculty of a situation from emergency weather alerts to an on-campus shooter. However, the number that will be contacted is the number the student lists as their primary contact number on Access.

Many students have their parents’ home number as the listed number, therefore the message will be sent to parents who could be hundreds of miles away from campus. “Students are the only ones who can change that. Students should log into Access and change your primary number to most preferably a cell phone in order to get the messages to the right recipient quickly,” Chief Schafer said. By making this quick change it could potentially end up saving your life.

In addition to phone message alerts, the school has an emergency alert system with loud speakers located around campus. Through these speakers, administrators are able to broadcast alerts which could help notify students of a lockdown situation.

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