BLOOMINGTON, Ind. ― Indiana University faculty are questioning whether the campus is prepared for a worst-case scenario following a deadly attack in a Purdue University classroom.
Senior Andrew Boldt, 21, of West Bend, Wis., was shot and stabbed Jan. 21 in Purdue’s electrical engineering building. A fellow undergraduate teaching assistant, Cody Cousins, 23, of Warsaw, Ind., is charged with murder.
The case has many faculty members questioning the safety at IU, where many buildings are a century old and doors lack modern security features.
IU officials tell The Herald-Times that the university has been adding layers of safety features to its buildings to guard against a scenario like the 2007 at Virginia Tech that killed 33 people. But renovation money is tight, and leaders say it’s impossible to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to protect an entire campus.
“We can give you tips,” says Debbi Fletcher, the director of emergency management and continuity at IU, “but it depends if [the shooter is] outside, inside, whether the person is in the classroom or down the hall, or if they are down the street.”
New structures at IU have keypads and card-swipe entrances. The Kelley School of Business’ renovated Hodge Hall will have locking mechanisms, unlike the doors in the business school’s older classrooms.
Many other buildings, however, still have doors that open outward and lack locks and peepholes.
Cindy Stone’s computer lab in the Wells Library at the Kelley School is one of them.
Stone notes that a door that opens out can’t be barricaded shut from the inside. She says she and other faculty have been sharing their concerns about what they’d do if an “active shooter” situation occurred on campus.
“They were just as baffled about it,” says Stone, who served on the IU Board of Trustees in the 1990s. “What would we really do in a worst-case scenario?”
Faculty members also say there’s no consistent approach to training in how to deal with such emergencies.
For now, IU touts a “Run, hide, fight” strategy, Fletcher says. Those on campus are urged to flee or find shelter first. If neither option is available, the individual has to decide what to do next, Fletcher says.
Fletcher says a more comprehensive training tutorial for faculty is in the works. Currently, most safety information is available on the Protect IU website, and emergency management tries to distribute pointers through social media and fliers.
Tom Morrison, IU’s vice president of capital planning and facilities, says it’s impossible to “lock down” an entire campus. Even if all doors are secure and bulletproof, he says, that still might not prevent the next catastrophe.
“We see these horrible tragedies. There’s an earthquake, the building collapses, and people ask, ‘Can’t you design a building that won’t happen to?’” Morrison says. “The answer is yes, you can. But you have to be able to afford it. You have to balance what your mind’s eye can imagine with what is practical.”