On March 3, students and faculty alike received a call alerting them that an active shooter was on campus and to execute the procedures that they were informed of. Of course, it was just a drill that everyone was emailed about ahead of time to prepare, but nobody knew when it would happen.
The ALICE training is an active shooter training, and is represented by an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evade (or Evacuate). Alma College adapted their own version of this and sent a PowerPoint presentation campus-wide that explained the steps of what to do if a situation arises, along with a video. The email also stated the college’s two evacuation points: Alma First Presbyterian Church and Alma First Church of God.
“I think they should have made a more detailed PowerPoint to go with the email or had [professors] take–even just a little–class time to make sure everyone knew what was going on beforehand. The PowerPoint did a good job of explaining what to do, but not a good job of explaining when to do it,” said Katie Bailey (‘22).
She added that during her training as an FYG she was also trained how to go about the ALICE training, and was still confused then.
The drill occurred during the 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. time slot. If students did not have class, many were in bed, or at least in their dorms.
“I was in my room when it happened and I just stayed [there] and locked my door— but should I have left?” said Bailey, who was getting ready for class and wasn’t sure what to do.
Students were concerned about only being alerted by a phone call, especially if they were in their rooms or asleep.
“I got one phone call; I feel like two would have been cool,” said Mackenzie Hetzler (‘22).
Some people did not even receive a phone call and only knew about the training if their friends told them. Additionally, some professors were unaware of the training–despite the emails–or where to evacuate to.
“I heard from some friends who were in SAC at the time say that their [professors] had them evacuating by just going down the stairs. I know [one] step is to always try to escape, but if there was actually a shooter, I don’t know if anyone would actually risk the stairs,” said Bailey.
Students were also concerned about walking to the evacuation centers, as this would force them to walk in open areas unprotected, and lead to them being an available target for any danger if it did ultimately occur. Additionally, the fact that many people did not understand what to do–even after being sent the emails–led to frustration.
“There should have been a debriefing so that we could discuss what happened versus what should have happened or what could be improved in the future,” said Hetzler, who
even suggested campus sending out a survey to see what was understood and what was not.
“I feel like without the debriefing it’s not training; it’s just a thing that happened that the majority of campus didn’t even care about.”
Hetzler even commented that boys were outside her dorm room screaming, rather than taking part in the drill.
Even with the chaos and dissatisfaction of students and faculty at the way it was depicted, people on campus still understand the importance of the drills, just wish for improvements.
“I understand that it’s needed. I like that we do [ALICE training] instead of lockdowns like they used to make us do in high school,” said Bailey.
Regardless of whether it feels legitimate or not, everyone should still take these drills seriously. Although they are only drills, they are implemented to help prepare in case a tragedy does happen. School shootings are unfortunately very common today, and even though nothing can truly prepare you for the worst, practicing these methods and understanding the steps of Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evade could potentially save a life.