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UMass Boston officials engage community members on campus safety

The Office of Emergency Management and Business Continuity is giving three safety classes throughout the spring semester. Labeled “Staying Safe on Campus,” the courses can teach students about active shooters, bomb threats, and fire safety.

The university Training Registration System website lists “Staying Safe on Campus” as being an hour long. A session given on Dec. 8 consisted of an educational training video, a short lecture, and audience questions.

“With the proper mindset and the necessary tools, you’ll be better prepared to react with purpose and maximize your chance of survival,” says Randy Spivey in “Shots Fired on Campus: When Lighting Strikes,” the training video.

Spivey is the executive director at the Center for Personal Protection and Safety, the video’s developer.

Viewers are instructed to react to gunshots by immediately escaping, hiding, or aggressively defending themselves. Once chosen, the option must be fully committed to. Preparation for this decision is crucial to the “survival mindset” that video experts say can be lifesaving.

“It’s important to ask the ‘what if’ questions,” says Eugen Fagala, a retired FBI agent from the National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime.

“Shots Fired on Campus” is easily found and can be watched online.

School shootings are statistically rare but a tragic reality. Last May, 22-year-old student Elliot Rodgers went on a shooting rampage through the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, killing six people and injuring 13 before committing suicide. 

Emergency Manager Anne-Marie McLaughlin and Public Safety Officer Dianne Kirkpatrick elaborated on preventative measures and response strategies specific to the University of Massachusetts Boston after the training video was finished.

“If we don’t know about [a potential shooter], there is no way for us to stop them,” said McLaughlin.

Community members are encouraged to report distressing students to the Dean of Students, Mark Jannoni (617-287-5899), and distressing faculty to university human resources. 

The school’s counseling center (617-287-5690) offers personalized mental and emotional health counseling for those facing crisis and stress.

Evacuation plans for most campus buildings are viewable on the university website under the Environmental Health and Safety section. 

The UMass Boston Alert System communicates emergencies as text messages, phone calls, and emails, catering to individual technological capabilities. Sign up at the Alert System’s webpage.  

The new Twitter profile @UMB_Safety was created as a collaboration between the Office of Emergency Management and Business Continuity, Department of Public Safety, and Environmental Health Safety. The profile acts as a source of general safety information, weather updates, emergency alerts, and more. 

The spring semester “Staying Safe on Campus” classes are scheduled for Feb. 12, March 18, and May 21. McLaughlin says the class can be adapted for private presentations, if that is something a student activity club or academic department is interested in. Those who are interested should email [email protected].