Sometime on the week of March 5, the Office of Safety and Security will hold its first ever on-campus lockdown drill, during which all campus buildings will be locked and inaccessible with OneCards. Although this drill comes shortly after a shooter killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Associate Director of Safety and Security Dave Profit said that this drill has been planned for months and was not influenced by the event.
Security has held lockout drills before but this one prepares for a more serious event than previous drills have.
The drill, the day of which will not be announced in advance, is intended to test the College’s preparedness in scenarios of bomb threats or active shooter situations and encourage situational awareness among students, faculty and staff.
“We’re trying to give you tools and the opportunities in the event of an incident like this,” said Profit. “If you have the ability to get out, get out. If there’s something bad happening over there and you have to go that way, go. But if the threat is in your building and you can’t really do anything, then it’s like find a place to lock down, get down and hide.”
During past lockout drills, students, faculty and staff have still been able to enter buildings with their OneCards but during this drill, buildings will be completely inaccessible.
“Once the buildings are locked and you’re outside in the quad, you’re not getting into a building,” said Profit. “So, you have to be able to think fast on your feet—you can either go behind a building, hide somewhere in a little alcove, go out to a parking lot or hide behind cars.”
Bowdoin began holding lockout drills fairly recently, with the first held in the spring semester of 2016. The College holds two lockout drills every academic year, one for each semester and according to Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols, Security conducts a ‘tabletop’ exercise to coordinate its active shooter response every June. Nichols said he’s always planned on holding a lockdown drill and the College was merely building up the resources and preparedness to hold its first drill.
Lockout drills themselves have exposed several deficiencies in the past. Nichols said that professors who are against electronic disruptions during class sometimes unplug the landline telephones in classrooms, which could create a more dangerous situation in the event of an emergency.
“You have to keep it plugged in because that could be your only means of getting notified,” said Nichols.
Although the College holds these drills to encourage preparedness, it also stresses the importance of personal responsibility and staying calm in these situations.
“We want people to realize that they have to take responsibility for their own personal safety in these situations because the resources are going to be geared toward going after the threat. You have to think about wherever you are on campus, the places that you frequent on campus, daily; you should get to know those places really well,” said Nichols.
“We hope that it’s going to at least generate some discussion. For example, ‘this is a drill, but when the situation comes, what would we do if this were not a drill?’ And that’s the type of talk we want people to engage in.”
“We don’t want people to be anxious during these drills,” said Nichols. “Critical incidents are very rare and we just want to be prepared because if it does happen, we don’t want people to panic and preparation is the best antidote to panic.”
Correction March 6 1:00 pm: An earlier version of this article misattributed the final quote to Associate Director of Safety and Security Dave Profit.