Campus response to gun violence

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

The mass shooting at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has instigated discussion regarding gun control, campus responses to gun violence and the effects of such incidents on students. Issues surrounding gun control have become more polarized than ever, with partisan disagreement perpetuating a problem that has taken the lives of many and directly impacted the lives of students all over the country. With these concerns in mind, we at the Technique wish to discuss how the Institute could improve its gun violence protocol, as well as the relationship between Tech’s campus and the city in which we reside. 

The Institute lies within the city of Atlanta, a very large metropolitan city. While certain regions of Atlanta may be more dangerous than others, there is no denying that many students reside within Midtown Atlanta and can be caught in the middle of active shooter situations. An example of this was this past May, when many off-campus students found themselves stuck in their apartments during finals week, as an active shooter situation was occurring right in front of numerous  off-campus apartments buildings primarily occupied by students. Shockingly, Tech did not have proper protocol in place to address the scenario; some students were even forced to walk to class or to finals. It is a disturbing prospect that a student would be forced to choose between passing their classes or their life. This incident brought a very notable issue to light: Tech does not know how to address active shooter scenarios in a safe and efficient manner. The Georgia Tech Emergency Communication System (GTENS) is a physical manifestation of the Institute’s failure. Numerous students did not even find out about the active shooter from GTENS; rather, they found out through the grapevine, from group chats, social media and friends. This is concerning, especially because the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) was present on the scene. 

This problem of gun control persists on campus. Georgia House Bill 280 from 2017 and Senate Bill 319 from 2022 dictate that it is legal for individuals to carry a concealed gun on campus. In light of this, more well-defined procedures are imperative with guns being permitted on campus. Faculty and students alike should be well aware of the protocol for incidents of gun violence. Resident Assistants should also receive education on protocols for active shooter situations as well, so they can inform their residents of how to respond. Further, it may even be helpful to engage in drills for active shooter situations, similar to fire drills. Bigger buildings such as the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons should have a standard procedure, and such procedures could also be included on syllabi to increase student accessibility. 

While there are solutions to addressing incidents of gun violence as they arise, this begs the question of why these issues are so prevalent in the first place. Just like concert venues and sports stadiums ban weapons for safety, college campuses can do the same without infringing on gun possession rights. Further, our suggestions regarding procedure changes are not intended to normalize the phenomenon of shootings on campus. Rather, it is to empower our students with knowledge to preserve their safety until better legislation can be passed. The Institute and its impact on Georgia as a whole, such as with its 4.5 billion dollars in direct spending, may have the ability to sway legislation if they tried. Students can engage in this dialogue in trying to make changes surrounding gun protocol, such as through communication with the student government. Tech would also benefit greatly and set themselves up for success in the long run by including sections on safety in long-term plans (such as the Comprehensive Campus Plan) that see further expansion into Atlanta. Dangers are present and it is important to act accordingly, rather than simply ignoring its existence.

Students actively feel the burden of this. It is unfair that a student would have to worry about their safety when trying to pursue their education. The Institute must take steps to fix their lack of communication, protocol and policy regarding gun violence, especially in a world where it just takes one “bad apple” to cost Tech, and its community, irreparable damage.

The Consensus Opinion reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of the Technique, but not necessarily the opinions of individual editors.