Several IU students and staff are questioning if IU is prepared for emergencies on campus in the weeks following last month's deadly shooting at Michigan State University.
Three students were killed and five were injured after a gunman entered Berkley Hall, an academic building at MSU, according to The State News. It was the 67th mass shooting of 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archives.
Following the MSU shooting, students and faculty began to express concern on social media and in classes about IU’s safety procedures.
Locked doors across campus
One common concern amongst faculty is the fact that not all classrooms have physical locks on the inside of the door. Some academic buildings – such as Franklin Hall and Hodge Hall – have doors that are controlled via card scanners on the outside of the door, but only building managers have control over these locks, leading many professors unsure how to secure their classroom in the case of a lockdown.
Cheryl Jackson, an IU journalism professor who teaches in Franklin Hall, demonstrated the lack of access professors are given on their key cards to unlock classroom doors. When Jackson swiped her card across the black box outside of her classroom door, no change occurred and the door remained unlocked. Jackson said this makes her anxious and has asked administrators multiple times for access.
Darla Crawford, assistant building manager for the Media School, focuses on keeping the building and students safe. Her desk in the Franklin Hall commons is positioned to allow her to see more of the room, making it easier to identify anyone who enters the room.
Crawford said the Media School is currently working to create a safer environment within the building. One safety precaution Crawford is advocating for is locking side entrances to the building.
Crawford said key card access means only staff and students with classes inside the building would have access by swiping their Crimson Cards. It would be much like a dorm; only those who live there can scan their Crimson Card to enter. If you don’t have access, you would enter Franklin Hall through the front door, allowing Crawford to see who enters.
Crawford is not the only person on campus who feels campus doors should be locked and only accessible by key card.
“I would happily carry around my Crimson Card everywhere I go and sign into buildings if it means being and feeling safer,” IU sophomore Lola Fisher said.
How is IU prepared in case of an emergency
There are safety features in place to keep IU staff and students safe, including locking down buildings at certain times and sending IU Notify Alerts, IU Police Department Public Information Officer Hannah Skibba said.
Skibba said the IU Notify system gets information out to the public as soon and as accurately as possible in the case of an immediate danger on or around campus.
According to Benjamin Hunter, associate vice president and superintendent for IU Public Safety, IU is an open campus, like MSU. Hunter said an open campus means students, faculty, staff and the public are free to enter and leave at any time.
Hunter said if an active aggressor situation occurs — where an individual is actively engaged in attempting to cause harm to as many people as possible in a populated area — then an incident management team goes live immediately and begins mediating the scene. The incident management team has access to surveillance cameras and maps along with live footage from IUPD officer body cams.
Hunter said IU has established a multidisciplinary team of chancellors, IUPD and campus leaders to evaluate IU’s gaps in safety. This team was established before the MSU shooting.
Although professors like Jackson are concerned about not being able to lock doors with their Crimson Card, Hunter said this is because the decision to lock down a building in an emergency has many factors.
He said IU public safety makes decisions with police officers and the incident management team to determine when doors should be locked in an emergency. They decide whether a situation is considered a soft lock down, where Crimson Cards work to unlock classroom doors, or a hard lockdown, where Crimson Cards do not work to access classroom doors at all.
Michael Gray, assistant director of facilities and Franklin Hall building manager, has control over the locks on a day-to-day basis. Gray said each academic building’s building manager and safety team address what needs to be relayed to staff and students in their buildings and what needs to be done to keep their buildings safe.
Doors lock and unlock at specific times every day, Gray said.
However, if IU decides a building needs to be put on a hard lock down, the control of the locks falls to the university administration rather than building managers, Gray said. For instance, university administrators were temporarily granted control to locks in Franklin Hall when a man barricaded himself in a storm drain and Franklin Hall was put on lock down in October 2022.
Keeping students in the know regarding IU’s safety procedures
According to Protect IU, IU uses the “Run. Hide. Fight.” protocol as a safety procedure in the case of an active shooter or aggressor. “Run. Hide. Fight.” is a national protocol created by the FBI.
Many students on campus said the safety model and other resources are not well-distributed or known.
IU senior Anna Baldessari said she is worried about IU’s safety procedures.
“I think they should tell us where we are supposed to go in the case of a shooting,” Baldessari said. “More information in general would be nice.”
IU sophomore Fiona Flynn said she feels IU does not provide enough information to students to prepare them for a crisis.
“I feel like I know what I would do,” Flynn said. “But I don’t think that IU gets it out to students as to what they should do in a crisis.”
Gray said he believes the safety measures should be presented at New Student Orientation, which is required for all incoming freshmen.
Currently, NSO does not specifically address the “Run. Hide. Fight.” model but does provide info that links to the Protect IU website and IUPD website, along with providing information about IU Notify and The Rave Guardian App.
“Regardless of major, what building or what campus, you can get this material without having to seek it out,” Gray said.
Hunter said the public safety team has discussed developing a Canvas course. Although no development on this course has started yet, Hunter thinks a Canvas course making the “Run. Hide. Fight.” model accessible to faculty and students would be beneficial.
One of the biggest challenges to creating a safe and informed campus is getting the word out, Hunter said.
“IU is a safe campus,” Hunter said. “We are constantly evaluating and accessing our safety procedures to ensure your safety.”