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Akers: Clemson’s response to active shooter threats is unacceptable

Photo by Madison Akers

A lockdown button placed next to classroom door in the Brooks Performing Arts Center at Clemson University

Three minutes, 45 seconds. That’s how long it took for an active shooter to claim the lives of 17 victims and leave 17 others injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14, 2018.
It happened so fast, with little to no time to react. 
Eight minutes. That was the time it took for a gunman to shoot and kill three students and injure five others at Michigan State University on Feb. 13 earlier this year.
In a matter of minutes, tragedy struck these schools and many others around the country, and as we continue to see, they are not the last.
Unfortunately, tragedies like these seem to be happening more and more often in schools every year. As a student, it’s a horrifying thought.
The possibility of someone attempting to enter our school to inflict harm on others is terrifying, but it is now the reality students and faculty must face.
Clemson’s top priority should be limiting this fear and making everyone at the University feel safe and protected. However, following the recent active shooter threats made towards Clemson on Thursday, many of us have lost our trust and sense of safety.
“I am, like, still slightly on edge,” Callista Aurelia, a junior environmental engineering major, said. “They didn’t warn any students around the area, I feel like.”
Many students and faculty are concerned about how long Clemson took to send out a CU Safe Alert notifying those on campus about a possible active shooter.
At 8:32 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, CUPD’s Emergency Communication Center received a transferred call from Clemson City Police which reported individuals with weapons on campus, according to an email sent out by Gregory Mullen, the associate vice president for Public Safety and Chief of Police.
However, students were not immediately notified of this threat because “a determination was made that a safe alert was not needed and could create unnecessary panic,” Mullen said.
Instead, students were notified after the threat was deemed false at 9:14 p.m., almost 40 minutes after the initial call was made. This is unacceptable.
We are extremely lucky and grateful that this was a false alarm, but many of us can’t help but think, what if it wasn’t?
“It seems like the time that they took to decide if the threat was valid or not, people could have gotten harmed within that amount of time,” Lizzy Anast, the sustainability coordinator at Clemson University, said. “In my opinion, if there is ever a threat, people should be notified.”
It is completely understandable that the University didn’t want to cause a panic, but for the safety of everyone on campus, we should respond to any threat as if it were the real thing.
“I know it was only a threat and not an actual, like active shooter, but they didn’t really give us any details about it after,” Aurelia added. “I feel like we deserve more information on it.”
Luckily, Mullen’s email on the Friday following the incident answered many questions and provided more information about the threats. However, the way the situation was handled is still concerning.
Social media apps like YikYak and Twitter were utilized by many students and users who shared their opinions about Clemson’s response.
Users posted about how the wording of the alerts was poor and unclear, most likely causing unnecessary panic:
Others expressed their anger about the University’s failure to send an alert before determining the threats to be false:
The popular platform, YikYak, where users can post anonymously, was also filled with dozens of posts on Thursday regarding the threats and Clemson’s actions. 
Many users expressed their anger and concern about the situation, even encouraging students to protest for better response protocols in the event of an active shooter threat in the future.
Users also used the platform to notify others of the threats before a CU Safe Alert was officially sent after police had been seen walking around the Clemson University Cooper Library.
If our safety is threatened, we deserve to know. Please do better, Clemson.

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Madison Akers
Madison Akers, Asst. Opinion Editor
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