Faculty Afraid GWU Is Unprepared For Campus Shooter

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Faculty Afraid GWU Is Unprepared For Campus Shooter; Holistic Plans, No Instructions, Can’t Activate Classroom Locks, and More

GWU Faculty Lacks Training On An Active-Campus Shooter Situation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 3, 2023) – Faculty at the George Washington University [GWU] are afraid because many have not received any training about what to do if their campus is ever visited by a crazed campus shooter, says a lengthy article in GWU’s student newspaper. One professor said that he has received no active-shooter training during his almost-45-year tenure at GW.”

Actually, GWU has followed the almost-universal advice of experts and installed a system which permits classroom doors to be locked electrically from the inside, since no professor wants to step out into the hall to lock a door with a shooter on the loose, and no campus shooter has ever breached a locked classroom door, says GWU law professor John Banzhaf.

But unfortunately the system GWU installed was very different from the one recommended, is far from fail safe, and could easily fail to operate in an emergency for many reasons, he said, based on his experience as a security officer and security consultant, and also as an MIT-trained engineer who has designed and worked with electrical locking systems.

Indeed, he alerted a federal security agency to a serious flaw in its electrical-locking system, which it promptly corrected.

Even more shocking, in a recent survey not a single member of the faculty was even aware that their classrooms could be locked in the event an active-shooter-on-campus alarm is sent out, much less knew how to activate the system in an emergency.

Indeed, as one faculty member explained to his colleagues, since “the button [to lock classroom doors] is actually only useful if it’s used in the emergency, which means you have to be able to find it under stress and actually remember that it exists.”

One faculty member who actually had a shooter open fire and kill a colleague at her earlier place of employment described it an “incredibly frightening ordeal” which left her “with a lot of anxiety about gun violence and mass shootings.” 

That’s why she said she was “surprised by the lack of security training when she began working at GW one year after the shooting, and how open GW buildings are due to its status as an ‘urban campus.’” 

That’s why she “would be ‘open’ to attending trainings because of the ‘frequency of shootings’ in educational settings and the ‘current American climate’ for instructors regarding mass killings and acts of violence.”

Public Safety Plan

A GWU spokesperson is quoted as explaining that the university is currently having “reviews and discussions” about enhancements to its “holistic” public safety plan.  Indeed, a holistic public safety plan seems to be what some faculty member want, and probably expect will protect them in the event a shooter comes to campus.

Writing in opposition to GWU’s plan to arm a small number of its specially trained supervisory police officers, these faculty members wrote:

“If we seek to broaden the imagination on public safety, have we trained the GWU community as a whole in how to illuminate the dignity of all people (especially in conflict situations), how to practice deep empathy, how to use nonviolent communication, how to de-escalate through active bystander intervention skills and nonviolent self-defense training.”

But Banzhaf points out that deranged-shooter-on-campus situations have been resolved by the use of deadly force – either to neutralize the shooter or to pressure him to shoot himself – and not by deep empathy, dignity enhancement, intervention skills, or nonviolent communication.

In short, given the growing frequency of gunmen on campus to the point where such an attack is now “reasonable foreseeable” from a legal point of view, GWU and other universities must take such threats far more seriously, and not rely upon failure-prone locking systems apparently unknown by virtually all of its faculty members, and/or “holistic” public safety plans, argues Banzhaf.

He suggests GWU consider the many simple, inexpensive, logical, effective,and proven suggestions contained in this detailed study.