Gun Violence Incites Safety Concerns for Students

Kayla Jones-White, The Black Bear – It seems like no place or event is completely safe. Churches have been subjected to acts of terrorism, movie theaters polluted with violence, and college campuses the setting of murderous mass shootings. The recent tragedy in Las Vegas – the deadliest shooting in American history –  poses a question to Americans and students alike: am I safe in the places I frequent?

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Photo retrieved from Missouri State University’s website.

Institutions of higher education have policies in place to ensure students are not participating in academic dishonesty. When asked about Missouri State’s current policy on plagiarism, students answer with certainty.

Harold Russell, a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering said, “I know that if you get caught cheating or plagiarizing you can get dropped from the class, and even get in trouble with the university.”

However, when questioned about the university’s policies on public safety and precautionary measures against acts of violence, Russell was not as confident.

“I am not aware of their policies, but I am concerned about what precautions they take when certain dangerous things happen.” Russell said.

Missouri State University has a number of procedures in place to heighten student awareness of and prevent criminal or potentially dangerous activity. Safety and Crime Alerts are sent via text message and email to the university community to ensure students and staff are receiving factual information in a timely manner.

Oftentimes during dangerous and evolving situations, individuals look to social media for updates.

Lauren Aiello, a freshman studying Music Theater, admits that she heard about the Las Vegas shooting through social media.

“I heard about it, I think, through Snapchat or a pop-up on social media – like Instagram or something,” Aiello said.

Though Twitter and other social mediums can be a means of spreading information quickly through their inherent share features, they lack regulation. Individuals can knowingly or inadvertently spread inaccurate information, which in instances of terrorism and violence has the potential to be deadly. Safety and Crime Alerts prevent this from happening.

The Safety and Transportation Department provides an on-campus walking service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students can call for assistance, and a campus officer will be dispatched to their location. A maximum of two students can be escorted from the same point of origin to the same on-campus destination.

In coordination with their Safe Walk service, the Safety and Transportation Department recommends that students and faculty use the BearLine Shuttle when possible.

Safety videos on crime prevention and personal protection are also available to students, faculty, and staff.

For instances of emergency, Missouri State has an Emergency Operations Plan. The procedures outlined in this plan are designed to “maximize human survival; preserve property; minimize danger; restore normal operations of the University; and assure responsive communications with the University community, surrounding neighborhoods, and the city within which the campus resides.”

When horrendous acts of violence occur, the impact can be felt around the nation. Though public safety is a primary concern, it is also important that students are aware of the resources in place for mental and emotional distress that often follows these heinous incidences.

Missouri State University offers free counseling in Carrington Hall. Students are welcome to talk with experienced professional counselors, psychologists, social workers and graduate students about their stressors or concerns. The Counseling Center has various services, such as individual counseling, couples counseling, group counseling and emergency/crises services.  

As violent acts seem to become more commonplace than ever, it is essential the students and citizens are aware of the programs and procedures in place to keep them safe.

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