On March 21, the University will conduct an emergency preparedness drill on campus simulating an active shooter in the Brandeis Library. Through interactive role-play, this drill will test the University’s level of readiness should a real crisis of this nature unfold on campus. In light of similar shooter threats that have recently taken place both at Brandeis and at other educational institutions across the nation, this board commends the University’s proactive approach in fostering a safer and more protected community. 

There have already been 12 school shootings across the nation since 2018 began, according to a March 2 CNN article. In November 2017, three students in East Quad were threatened by an armed subject from outside the community. These facts highlight the need for increased emergency preparedness, and the University is doing an important job in meeting that need. According to the University, simulation drills have become the most advisable practice in higher education settings in response to increased school shootings and are recommended by emergency preparedness experts. 

This upcoming drill will allow campus security operations to evaluate their emergency protocols to make sure their staff, technological databases and plans of action are able to meet the demands of a potential threat. Furthermore, it will incorporate Waltham police, firefighters and other responders from the local community including Bentley University Police and Cataldo Ambulance. Throughout the drill, emergency vehicles will be entering campus with sirens and lights, as if it were actually under threat, testing the communication between local first responders and those of the University under real-life conditions. This board applauds the University’s steps in not only improving our own emergency protocol but also improving its collaboration with other Waltham emergency personnel to be more prepared amid the stresses of a real threat to our campus.  

The March 21 drill will simulate the sound of gunshots in the Brandeis Library. It is understandable that this component may be triggering for some on campus who may feel anxiety or fear because of such a sound. This board appreciates the University’s consideration of these potential triggers and its commitment to providing the campus community with helpful resources throughout the drill. According to statements released by the Department of Public Safety, the Brandeis Counseling Center will be offering drop-in hours throughout the process, and there will be clinicians onsite in the Department of Community Living offices, according to their website. 

Additionally, the University has done a noteworthy job of making sure every member of the Brandeis community is aware of this drill and can prepare for any hardships or inconveniences. Several emails have already been sent out to students, faculty and staff — in addition to signs across campus notifying people of the upcoming event. Further, alternative study spaces have been set up to compensate for the closed library. All of this information is available on a specially curated website accessible only to members of the Brandeis community (www.brandeis.edu/drill). Should a real emergency unfold on campus, it is crucial that our security measures be properly aligned to diffuse the situation and restore the safety of the campus community. Often, this is best ensured through simulation. While this may come with challenges and discomforts, this Board understands its necessity in protecting the Brandeis community and commends the University’s efforts in making sure everyone affected is accommodated and informed.