Though I was born in the United States, I don’t consider myself American (or ‘Murican, for that matter). I feel thankful every day that my mom is Canadian and decided to bring me back here when I was six years old. As much as I loved saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of every school day, I’m happier being in a country where national pride isn’t forced upon us. I’m also happy that we have stricter gun laws, and that an angry, disgruntled student can’t head to the local Wal-Mart for a gun before coming to campus to shoot up the place.
In a world where information can be accessed almost instantaneously, it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t hear about school shootings in the news. A quick Google search shows that there have been over 260 school shootings in the United States since Columbine in 1999. There have been three in the last week alone – two of which occurred the day I wrote this article.
I often wonder what I would do in an active shooter situation. Would I be the brave one who confronts the person(s)? Would I risk my life to save another? Or would I be so terrified that I would freeze and pray that I’m not one of the victims? While I’d like to think that I’m brave and strong, until put in that situation I can honestly say I have no idea how I would react.
I also wonder, if there was someone on campus with the intention of mass murder, how I would even know unless they were in close proximity? Our university has a new system called UFV Alert, where students and staff would get a text message or email notification in this type of situation — but unless you sign up for it, there will be nothing coming through to your phone. All you can do is hope that at least one person in your general area has signed up for it and shares the news with you. And in the event that you are in fact signed up for it, what happens when you are in one of the many areas on campus without cell reception? You could be hanging out at the Canoe in the new Student Union Building, or perhaps sitting in a lecture in D building, and not even get the luxury of a text message due to spotty reception in those areas.
I don’t think that any student should have to prepare for a situation like the ones that happen far too often in the United States, but given the statistics, maybe it’s something that needs to be addressed. As long as the media continues to glorify individuals who choose to shoot their fellow classmates, universities need to have contingency plans to keep their students safe. UFV Alert is a great start, but not only do we need to actually sign up for it so that we can all get the notification when and if that time comes, we need to look into other systems, as well.