In light of recent events, no two words strike fear into the hearts of students and faculty more than these. The reality that places of learning have become highly publicized beacons of violence is hard to ignore, particularly when nearly biweekly incidents both captivate and horrify the country.
But this feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that has infected students across the nation, even here at the University of Maine, is something that can be helped — and is something that rests on the shoulders of both pupils and staff to remedy.
Though these sporadic atrocities cannot always be prevented, should they tragically occur, they can be managed. This management begins by parties both informing themselves about and preparing for these types of situations responsibly.
But therein lies the first problem — students and staff are not always engaged enough to take personal responsibility for their own safety.
Resources are available to help those on campus prepare for the possibility of an active shooting situation. It is up to the University of Maine to provide these, and that is an effort they’ve taken.
Videos, readings and other informative media are available both on the University of Maine website and elsewhere around campus for easy access. These sources discuss particular measures for a hopefully unlikely scenario, offering evacuation and behavioral advice.
But, unfortunately, these resources are only as good as how often and well they’re utilized.
The best way to avoid feeling helpless is to take individual initiative and interact with whatever resources are available. A campus prepared for an emergency situation is a campus that, if targeted, can help prevent further tragedy by taking proper action and following proven procedure.
Not all of the responsibility falls on students, however. In the wake of these appalling shootings across the country, it is important that the university renews their efforts to engage students with these materials. A timely reminder email, a post on the website’s home page, a Facebook post with applicable links — the University could be taking more initiative than just passively making these resources available.
In times of crisis, it’s important that communities come together — not fracture apart. In the interest of both themselves and their fellow students, UMaine pupils and administration need to take these dreadful events as judicious reminders of their responsibilities to the safety of their communities — and themselves.
“Be prepared” is not just the Boy Scout motto, but an important reminder to citizens of a world that can be both dangerous and scary. When lives hang in the balance, a perusal of a video, an article, an evacuation plan is not too much to ask.
Helplessness is not always inevitable.
Sometimes, people are only as helpless as they let themselves be.