Bullet-Proof The Campus

Do we know danger? Most of us are not used to day-to-day emergencies, andmost of us have never encountered a real life-threatening situation. We are fortunate enough to remain untouched by the reality of instant death. The same might have been said of the students of Virginia Tech. No matter what we see on TV or read about in the newspaper, we will never know the true taste of terror until we encounter it. However, this is no reason not to try and become more prepared. We cannot simply look at Virginia Tech as a tragedy; we must also look at it as a wake-up call. Our campus, like most prep schools and colleges, is open to the public. To this date, there have been very few “incidents” involving strangers on our campus. However, there’s always a first time. To say that the Andover Police Department could really rescue us in the case of a shooting is naive. Doesn’t Blacksburg, Virginia have a police department? Instinct rules above all in an immediate life-and-death situation. Suppose a masked gunman walked into your classroom and started shooting. What would you do? Probably go into immediate shock, maybe pass out or call 911… we don’t know how people will react in that situation because most don’t live to tell the tale. But if a masked gunman walked into the classroom three doors down from yours, then what would you do? Even if you called 911, the police can’t get there in 10 seconds. It takes the Andover Police Department two minutes or maybe even more, depending on the time of day, to reach our campus. This relatively short response time is still too long when dealing with a crisis such as an intruder. With the system PA is currently using, there’s really nothing you could do to save yourself and your classmates. PA needs to get its act together and create a functioning Shelter-in-Place procedure immediately. The Shelter-in-Place drills that currently go on are a complete joke. Everyone knows they’re coming, and everyone assumes they a drill and treat them accordingly. Students do not take the Shelter-in-Place drills seriously. When the faint sirens from a PAPS-mobile resound around campus during a Shelter-in-Place drill, most students do not stop and think, “It’s time for Shelter-in-Place! Quick, close the blinds! Get down on your knees, hide beneath a desk! Call 911! Lock the door!” We do not comprehend danger, and this is an inestimable problem. We are naturally sheltered by living in this “Andover Bubble.” There is no comparable experience for us to practice for a real emergency. To this I say, drill us. Back in the days of elementary or middle school, there were routine fire drills. They seemed real, the teachers took them seriously, and everyone knew what to do. We took the matter seriously, and if we didn’t, we were reprimanded. The “drop everything and walk out the door in an orderly fashion” procedure became instinct. So, PA Security, I urge you to step up your game. Make our generally liberal and free Andover stringent in one respect: our ability to cope with an emergency. The Shelter-in-Place drill needs to become as second nature to PA students as atomic bomb drills were to our parents. Only then will we be able to look the unavoidable threats of daily life on an open campus in the face and say, “Bring it on.” It is my hope that PA won’t just sit back and wait until tragedy strikes our own campus before taking proactive measures to ensure not only that PAPS or the police can handle an emergency, but also that any one of us would be better prepared than those who lost their lives on the Virginia Tech campus. Wearing orange and maroon and attending services is respectful and necessary. Showing VT that we’re learning from its loss and taking action to prevent another tragedy like theirs is paying tribute, and that’s progress. And in the end, in this world we live in, that’s all anyone could ever hope for.