Category Archives: school shootings

Opinion: “#WalkUpNotOut” hashtag points fingers at the wrong people

Sarah Thurman, Staff Writer

Instead of walking out of class, walk up to a student who is isolated and be nice to them. While this seems like a good idea at first, when it is looked deeper into it, this is victim blaming.

The entire point of the walk out was for students to take a stand as they feel that the Government is not doing their job of taking care of this situation. After the shooting on February 14th in Parkland, Florida, students have begun to demand better reform on gun laws and for people in control to stand up.

Instead of helping the students, people are choosing to call out students. Telling them to walk up instead of out is such a typical thing for today’s conservative Americans who like to ignore real everyday situations.

The youth of today is trying to stand for something they believe in and are asking for support from the American community only for them to be told that they are in the wrong.

It’s not unusual for people to try and change a movement to become inclusive to all. For example, “All lives matter!”, which was used to combat the “exclusive” political stand of “Black lives matter.”

They chose to ignore the problems at hand and make them into something that will bring less attention. Once students began to express that they were going to walk out and protest gun violence people on social media began to tell them how the idea was wrong. Telling students to walk up, not out began to spread on social media and soon enough everyone was posting about it trying to ignore the real problem at hand.

Is walking up going to show the government that we need reforms on guns or that the students are sick of being ignored and told they are too young to have opinions? Walking out is something that allows them to protest and make headlines.

Walking up is victim-blaming. Yes, it wouldn’t hurt kids to be nicer, but telling them that they are the cause of school shootings is wrong. Walking up is suggesting that the kids who have died in these shootings would have lived if they had been “nicer.”

This is also making kids across America feel more excluded and seemingly like an outcast even more. The logic of a walk up is telling students to walk up to the kids that they feel like would be the ones to bring a gun to school.

Imagine being one of those misjudged kids to get on social media and see that the kids only came up to you because they fear that you would kill them. This hashtag is telling students that it is their fault that school shootings are happening. This entire trend is taking away from the fact that the problem we face is an epidemic of gun violence and is placing the blame on students.

They act as if the entire problem of gun violence can be solved by just being nicer to people.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Opinion: Wingate’s lack of emergency planning during the school lockdown

Ryan McKeel, Staff Writer

Shortly before Spring Break, Wingate University was put on lockdown on what was supposed to be just a normal Monday. In the middle of the day, law enforcement responded to a report of a shooting on Jerome Street south of US 74 across from the Wingate campus.

Members of the Wingate community were shocked to learn that while campus safety did their best to protect students, several problems at the institution existed that counteracted any successful measure by the team.

During the lockdown, several professors and staff members continued class, rehearsal, and practice within well-lit rooms with open blinds and propped-open doors as if to say “Hey! I’m in here, Mr. Gunman,” while forcing students to stay seated with their phones in their pockets and their eyes dead ahead. These professors either did not know what to do during a lockdown or seemingly did not care enough to follow procedures.

During the lockdown, some faculty members kept pursuing their lifelong mission of sharing trigonometry with disengaged students. They allowed their own selfish desire for control to override their position of authority, that commands them to protect their classroom community.

There were, however, countless reports of professors, some even near retirement, barricading doors with desks and chairs in an effort to protect themselves and the students with them. These employees followed protocol and attempted to do everything in their power to help the students they serve.

Only one problem existed above those helpful students and teachers: many of the doors on this campus do not lock.

Less than a month after the lockdown, University officials began to order and install locks on the door that could easily protect students during a lockdown, but why did it take a threatening situation to make this happen? Who decided to keep building gyms and dorms while doors could not yet lock? Why is it that this institution is seemingly so invested in what the campus looks like yet when it came down to protecting students most, we were left to barricade classrooms while some instructors who had no idea what to do?

The University needs to install systems of training required of all community members, including faculty, staff and students that actively prepare individuals for dangerous situations. All rooms on this campus should be prepared to protect its inhabitants, should students and faculty find themselves in it during a threatening scenario.

University employees who refuse to take matters like this seriously and would rather follow their own hidden agenda, should be fired.

It is easy to blame millennials for complaining, but students pay more in annual tuition and fees to this institution than some employees make in a year, yet it took a potentially life threatening day to start hearing their voices.

The community got lucky this time, but in a world that seemingly thrives off of school shootings, it is imperative that the Wingate community listens to the shouts of the angered and does something serious about protecting those who work, study and live on this campus. We will be the idiots the next time this happens, if we are not prepared.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Wingate makes changes to the safety protocol in reaction to the campus lockdown

Mariah Anderson, Staff Writer

“Wingate University has issued immediate lock-down procedures for the main campus. Please lock all doors and windows and await further instruction.” With this 11:35 a.m. text, Wingate University instituted a lockdown on Monday, February 26, 2018.

Rumors of an active shooter on campus caused students in the dining hall to race to their dorms since they had no place to hide in the open hall.

Students and faculty in classrooms immediately moved to lock the doors, but some rooms had no locks. The people in these rooms used chairs and tables to barricade the entryway as they awaited further instructions and details from the university staff.

During the lockdown, students and faculty were notified that the shooting had happened across the street from campus on Jerome Street earlier that morning. However, Wingate took precaution and placed the campus on lockdown to ensure student safety.

After the lockdown, the question at hand became: Was Wingate University prepared for a lockdown, and how could they better prepare for similar events in the future?

One possible way to prepare for the future would be to ensure that proper communication occurs with everyone: faculty, staff, students, and parents. Professor Karen Dunn stated that she was unaware that there was a lockdown until a student told her because she was busy teaching when the message was sent out, and the alarm was not audible from the classroom.

Another professor, Dr Jim Coon, stated that he did not receive the text alerts because he had mistakenly subscribed to the weather alerts.

Both professors were uncertain about what procedures to follow, with Professor Dunn stating, “As a professor, I felt that I should have known what to do, but I didn’t know what to do.” In fact, she found herself asking her students, “What should we do?”

The students and professor jumped into action, but overall the classroom felt unprepared for such an emergency, suggesting that one area of improvement Wingate might pursue would be to have mandatory training for faculty and staff on how to handle emergency protocols.

Some parents expressed reservations at the lack of communication in place, with one parent stating, “I think they could have been a little more forthcoming with the fact that the students were following safety protocol. It was not until I was contacted by my daughter that I found out that a safety protocol was not in place or worse had not been previously practiced by Staff and Students.”

One student, Cameron Smetak, criticized the amount of time it took to alert the students, “We should have been informed that there were shots fired across the highway right when it happened, not an hour later like we did.” An immediate alert system in the future might save lives.

Wingate University has already started instituting changes. A recent email to the campus community stated that the university was working on the doors without locks, posting lockdown guidelines in each room, improving communication with Union County, planning to conduct drills for each emergency, and adding additional sirens on campus.

However, this email was not sent to parents of students, so some parents are unaware of these upcoming changes, with one parent stating that he was “not aware of any improvements since the incident.”

However, students have noted that Wingate University is already implementing the promised changes, with new deadbolts being installed on doors that previously lacked them.

The faculty have noted positive changes as well. Dr. Coon stated, “We have gotten a couple of emails as faculty and staff, they are going through all of the procedures and looking at what worked and what didn’t. They’ve gotten feedback from lots of people, too.”

Although the recent lockdown was frightening for the campus community, it helped Wingate identify strengths and weaknesses in its emergency system. One parent, commenting on the success of this lockdown, suggested, “Simply have a plan. Practice it as well. The campus is a simple one that makes security in such an event more possible.”

With the improvements in place, Wingate will become a safer community, one that is fully prepared for emergencies and able to respond in a timely fashion in order to prevent tragedy.

Wingate University is advising all students to update their contact information on WUSync so that future alert systems can reach the entire campus community.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Homicide across from campus causes schoolwide lockdown

Keyana Daye, Staff Writer

Wingate students started their Monday afternoon just like any other until the sound of a siren was played from the bell tower. A lockdown had begun. Earlier that morning the Union County law enforcement had responded to a report of a shooting on Jerome Street, which is across from Wingate University.

Once Campus Safety was notified, the University Crisis Management Team mobilized and the University initiated lockdown procedure. All students were notified to seek shelter to the closest building. The lockdown lasted an hour long until the University was advised by law enforcement to resume normal operations while law enforcement remained on campus. On Tuesday morning the suspect, Douglas Cleveland Colson, turned himself into custody of the Wingate police department.

The homicide that prompted a lockdown on Wingate campus happened shortly after 10am, Monday morning. The victim, Prentis Robinson, was live streaming on Facebook Live after leaving the Wingate Police Department from reporting cellular theft.

On his way back to his home, Douglas Colson appeared who he then exchanged a few words with. There are reports that Robinson had suspected Colson of drug dealing. Shortly afterwards shots were fired and a few minutes later he was pronounced dead on the scene. This all took place less than a mile away from Wingate University.

While the homicide took place approximately at 10 a.m., the lockdown on Wingate campus didn’t take place until a little after 11 a.m. Some students reported that they thought it was odd since they had been seeing helicopters in the sky over campus.

And there were some students, like Jessica Daniels, that had heard Wingate Elementary School was on lockdown around 11 a.m. When Daniels heard about this and saw helicopters outside, she decided to call Wingate Campus Safety to check on things.

She reported that a woman answered the phone but reacted as if it were the first time she had heard of there being an shooting. After a few minutes of being on hold, the woman said, “So, someone was shot in the area, but it’s not like there is a killer on the loose.”, and according to Jessica Daniels it was less than 10 minutes later that the lockdown was called for.

As soon as the siren was played, it would be expected that everyone who heard the siren would move into the nearest building and turn off all the lights. However, according to most students, nobody knew what to do or even knew what the siren meant.

Some students reported that people kept walking around as the siren played and that even 10 minutes into the lockdown some professors were still lecturing. And according to most students, the general census was that nobody knew that the lockdown had started until they received text alerts from Wingate Campus Safety. Also during the campus-wide lockdown, many students reported that they were in rooms that did not have locks.

Many students expressed concern and were confused as to why it took so long from the initial incident to initiate the lockdown. In response to these questions, Chief of Wingate Campus Safety, Michael Easley, stated that Wingate Campus Safety was currently in the process of testing new locks and that by the end of next week they should have more locks to test.

And in response to the confusion of the wait in between the incident and the lockdown he stated, “I was not made aware until approximately 11 a.m. by the Wingate police department. I, then assembled the Crisis Management team and we analyzed the situation and sent out the first request for a lockdown at 11:30.”

He also reported that the public was able to know about the incident before Campus Safety and the police because the victim was live streaming on Facebook. Once the incident was analyzed, the Crisis Management team and Wingate police department was able to initiate action.

In response to the incident, an email was sent out to students on Tuesday afternoon detailing that the suspect was in custody and summarized the lockdown procedure that took place that Monday afternoon.

The Crisis Management team and Campus Safety are assessing their response and are currently accepting feedback from students, faculty, and parents. A listening session for students was held with the SGA forum and individual training will be held for Wingate employees in response to the incident.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Photo credit: Flickr