With the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg serving as a warning for campus security, many colleges and universities in the Pacific Northwest have begun revamping their security efforts to prepare for the worst. Many Washington schools have implemented emergency messages through text or email which alert students, faculty and staff to evacuate according to the fire evacuation routes. While schools such as the University of Washington and Seattle University already have emergency call posts stationed in various locations of their campus, they, along with other Washington colleges, have been discussing ways to improve their security efforts and safety protocols, according to an article by the Seattle Times.
One of the schools that are implementing new safety measures is Bellevue College. At BC, faculty and staff are trained to prepare for the unexpected. For example, BC has implemented two new safety programs known as the Behavioral Intervention Team, which aims to address and dissipate disruptive behavior, and the Dangerous Intruder Training classes, which teach how to react in a situation of crisis on the campus.
In order to adhere to the Affirmation of Inclusion, the BIT doesn’t cast out students with concerning behavior, instead, they aim to address the student’s emotions and refer them to proper counseling and services. “BIT also connects students with college and community resources, such as counseling, food assistance and temporary housing,” said Dean of Student Success Ana Blackstad. During their weekly meetings, the BIT, which is comprised of Blackstad, representatives from Student Programs, Multicultural Services, Counseling, the Office of International Education, Disability Resource Center and Public Safety, review reports submitted electronically by a faculty member about concerning behavior. Following the review, “the BIT team provides consultation and support to faculty, staff and administrators in assisting students who display concerning or disruptive behavior,” explained Blackstad.
BC’s improvement to campus safety is not just the prevention of troubled behavior, but also the preparation for an unexpected crisis. Public Safety’s Tahn Ha leads a Dangerous Intruder Training class, which discusses how to quickly prepare effective escape plans for any dangerous situation. The main emphasis during these trainings is to be aware of the surroundings, taking note of exits and entrances, which can be useful for creating evacuation plans. Since each crisis will not be the same, Ha reminds faculty and staff to find constructive methods of survival to focus on when the flight or fight reactions occur.
There have already been five training sessions conducted this quarter, according to Steven Robinson, director of public safety. “We are scheduling additional sessions for next quarter for students, staff and faculty,” noted Robinson. The next session will be on Nov. 22, at 12:30 p.m. Although a room hasn’t been specified, Student Programs will be arranging a location for the presentation and will also notify students to participate.
Furthermore, the information in each training session will remain similar. “My understanding is that these trainings are all the same to give the greatest number of BC employees the chance to learn about best practices in the event of a dangerous intruder,” explained Public Relations Manager Evan Epstein.
With more college emergencies occurring, many institutions are preparing for the worst. Through the addition of the BIT and Dangerous Intruder Training in their safety measures, BC hopes to prevent incidents by counseling disruptive behavior, and, if a crisis were to occur, prepare their community to think quickly on their feet.