Safety first

Sure, “stop, drop and roll” works if you catch your sleeve on fire, but do you know what to do in the case of a bomb threat? What about a flu pandemic or a chemical leak?

There are some things they just didn’t prepare us for in elementary school.

Luckily, Kent State has stepped up in light of recent campus emergencies such as increased violence and unpredictable weather conditions at colleges across the country. Kent State had an emergency response plan before, but the updated one addresses more current threats such as school shooters and biological threats. There is an emergency management plan for the institutional level, as well as an emergency guide with detailed steps for faculty, staff and students to follow in the case of an emergency.

The university released the new emergency guide last week and posted the two-part plan to its Web site.

Administrators notified students of the recently revised plan through FlashLine yesterday, directing them to the site for more information. They also plan on promoting the plan through faculty groups.

This is definitely a good first step.

Unfortunately, as far as we can see, this is the only step.

It might be easy to direct students to an online guide and hope that it will be enough preparation in the case of an emergency, but it’s not effective. There’s a reason we have lab sections for many science, statistics and writing classes — people learn better by doing than by just reading.

If a student hears a gunshot, how likely is it that they’re going to remember the steps outlined in the guide to keep them safe? There’s not going to be time to consult the Web site during an emergency.

If the university is really serious about safety, it needs to make these guidelines more hands-on and readily available. Have students do a day of drills during their orientation colloquiums. Some of them might balk at practicing for a lockdown or a tornado, but that’s a small price to pay for putting the routine into their brains. If those freshmen, as seniors, are faced with a bomb threat, they’re going to be more likely to know how to respond than if they just read it on the site.

We’ve complained about the juvenile nature of some of the residence hall activities. This is a perfect example of how Residence Services could make great use of its time and staff. Hold a mandatory meeting, and rather than doing ice breakers with the hall, show students where they should go if different disasters strike. Even if they don’t remember the procedure exactly, it’s far more likely to stick in their brains if they’ve walked the route and discussed the policy out loud.

Have the police and administrators hold open question-and-answer sessions about the plan. Let students, staff and faculty see who they would want to answer to in the case of an emergency. Get everything out in the open before tragedy strikes.

This guide is a wonderful first step to ensuring the safety of everyone on Kent State’s campus. Here’s hoping the university takes it to the next level.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.