A little more than a year ago, on a rainy September afternoon, a report of an armed individual on campus sent IU Southeast into lockdown mode.
On September 11, 2014, a student reported to campus police that someone had what appeared to be part of a gun sticking out of his camouflage backpack. Officials sent out an IU Notify warning, the campus was shut down and law enforcement from over a dozen agencies swarmed IU Southeast in search of the gunman.
The reported weapon turned out to be an umbrella, but the events of that day have led to a number of changes in how IU Southeast is approaching the subject of safety on campus.
“We need to be prepared,” IUS Chancellor Ray Wallace said. “We hope to God nothing ever happens, but we need to be prepared.”
One of the biggest complaints from students and faculty after last year’s lockdown was that many doors around campus, including classroom doors, had no way of being locked from the inside. The fear being that an active shooter would have access to classrooms full of students.
Wallace says that all classroom doors will be fitted with locks within the next few weeks.
“We had faculty and staff and students say this would help,” Wallace said. “That’s not full proof by any means, but if it adds a modicum of security for people, then that’s good.
IUS has also increased readiness training for faculty and staff. The training not only covers what to do in the instance of an active shooter but also covers situations such as fires and natural disasters. Some staff have been trained as floor wardens and are tasked with leading people on their floor to safety in the event of an emergency.
At a recent training course for student employees, IUS Police Chief Charles Edelen said that law enforcement is also preparing for circumstances similar to last year’s lockdown.
“Next summer we are planning on having a full-scale exercise,” Edelen said. “There will be multiple agencies on campus to train in case of an active shooter.”
Another way IU Southeast addressed the preparedness of the campus was by adding Alertus to the IU Notify system. Alertus allows officials to send a pop-up message to all desktops across the IUS network warning of a pending danger. Officials also equipped fire alarms across campus with prerecorded messages.
Chief Edelen said that one of the concerns raised after the last lockdown was that some professors do not allow cellphones into their classrooms, cutting students off from the IU Notify system.
“The prerecorded messages will alert students inside the classroom even if they don’t have their phone,” Edelen said at the training course.
Chancellor Wallace says that IU Southeast is a safe place to learn and work, but that if an event similar to last September occurs the campus is ready.
“We are prepared,” Wallace said. “And I am pleased with what we’ve done.”