By Justin Metcalf, Assistant News Editor—
UTC held its first campus safety training session for students on Monday, Sept. 16 in response to the false report of a gunman on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
The training session focused on threats of violence on campus, and it also touched on what to do in other emergency situations like fires, earthquakes and severe weather.
Participants worked with Jean Marie Lawrence, emergency planner for Safety and Risk Management, and police officers.
At the training session, they learned about lockdowns, seeking shelter, what to expect from an evacuation and police response, and how to “avoid, deny, defend.”
“We want students to know that we are here for them,” Lawrence said. “We are here to listen to their concerns, to help them make individual plans, to help them learn what our response is gonna be and of course what to do in that kind of situation.”
Haven Wright, a senior art and psychology major, created and filmed a performance art piece with a group of students on campus in response to UTC’s handling of the potential threat of violence on campus.
“I think it’s important for students to know what to do because it does not look like legislation regarding gun control will pass anytime soon,” Wright said. “So we are all kind of left with the personal responsibility of being aware of our surroundings.”
“However, if you are not even aware that something is happening, like a lot of students that day, then you can’t take the precautions necessary,” she continued.
The training sessions for students are optional, but there will be at least one session per month at different dates and times to accommodate students’ varying schedules, Lawrence said.
“As long as we are reaching people, as long as just one person shows up, that is creating a positive impact on campus,” Lawrence said. “Because if one student learns and they tell another, and they tell another, change can happen.”
Basic training for emergency situations is part of the orientation process for new faculty and staff at UTC.
In depth training for emergency situations has been offered to faculty and staff on campus, but it has never been required until now, Executive Director of Emergency Services Robie Robinson said.
“The chancellor has said that he wants us to make sure that we have given this training to everybody, faculty and staff, across campus,” Robinson said. “So we’re making a real effort to hit every academic department, every support department, everybody to make sure they get it.”
The next student training session for threats of violence will be held Tuesday, Oct. 8 in room 103 of the State Office Building from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.