What if it happened here?

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What if it happened here?

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<b>Virginia Tech tragedy causes campus safety issues to surface at AU</b>

By Bethany Kirby
Assistant State & Local Editor

One question has probably crossed every college student&#39;s mind in the last three days.

What if it had happened to us?

It&#39;s a valid question. Virginia Tech, which lies in the heart of the college town of Blacksburg, Va., is similar to Auburn in both size and spirit.

Cho Seung-Hui, who was identified as the gunman in Monday&#39;s Virginia Tech massacre, took the lives of 32 of his fellow students before taking his own.

It has sent universities across the country into a heightened state of awareness about their own preparedness for extreme incidents.

"Auburn University has a comprehensive emergency response plan that is practiced frequently," said Christine Eick, director of risk management and safety.

"The University has really put a lot of resources into our emergency management and planning," Eick said. "It is something we take very seriously."

The University has periodic drills in training for emergency situations.

Eick said this develops the communication between the University and the emergency response teams such as the FBI, the Auburn Police Division, the Opelika Police Department, the Lee County Sheriff&#39;s Office and the Alabama State Troopers.

Eick said the drills include practice in a variety of possible scenarios, so the teams will have a good framework for any type of emergency.

"We have actually planned and drilled on persons with weapons," Eick said.

Although the most recent drill was different than the situation at Virginia Tech, Eick said it was actually conducted on a larger scale.

"It&#39;s pretty hard to give out reassurances at this time, because it was a horrific event," Eick said. But she emphasized that for Auburn, emergency management and response is a priority.

Capt. Tom Stofer of the Auburn Police Division said there is a school crisis plan for situations like this one in Auburn.

"It just basically gives us our protocol to respond to any crisis on any campus," Stofer said.

This includes the University, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.

"It covers all type of emergency situations, both natural and man-made," Stofer said.

Stofer said it is hard to say exactly what would happen with an incident like this in Auburn.

"Every situation is unique in and of itself," Stofer said. "Every situation would demand a response that&#39;s unique in and of itself."

Stofer said that if another shooting happened tomorrow, it would be different than the one on Monday.

"Every situation is different," Stofer said. "Hopefully those agencies that respond ... have the training and flexibility to make wise decisions. Time will tell what things could have been done better."

Jamie Duff, a junior in human development and family studies, is from Williamsburg, Va., and many of her friends are students at Virginia Tech.

"It&#39;s reality — those are my friends," Duff said. "I have a connection with them."

Because she knows people closely involved, Duff said it is as real to her as if it had happened at Auburn. Duff said she can&#39;t help but compare Virginia Tech and Auburn University — the two schools are similar in size, and the town of Blacksburg is a small college town much like Auburn.

"It has the same feeling," Duff said of the similar atmosphere among students at Virginia Tech.

"People are questioning why, needing something to blame," Duff said. "People want to place blame on something.

"And I think some people right now are looking more at the blaming than the feelings of the people involved. We don&#39;t need to turn that into anger yet."

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Original Source: <a href=http://www.theplainsman.com/node/2417>Auburn Plainsman - April 18, 2007</a>

Creator

Bethany Kirby

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Auburn Plainsman

Date

2007-09-03

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Sara AA Hood

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David Ingram <ingradc@auburn.edu>

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eng

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Bethany Kirby, "What if it happened here?," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1290, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/1290 (accessed August 21, 2014).