January 2017

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January 2017

News From Mark Shanda, USITT President

Wishing Preparation, Courage for a New Year

Mark Shanda USITT President

Happy New Year! The next 12 months are filled with nothing but possibilities as we turn the page on the calendar and welcome in 2017.

Many suggest they are more than happy to see 2016 in the rear view mirror. There were certainly a variety of tests for all of us over the course of these past 12 months that I would just as soon not repeat.

On Nov. 28, I was teaching a graduate class when our Buckeye Emergency Alarm system was launched at 9:55 a.m. “Buckeye Alert. Active shooter on campus. Run, Hide, Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College” came across the screen on my phone and iPad. My initial response was that this was a drill. But the next message, about two minutes later, read “Emergency on Columbus Campus: More information soon. Shelter in place/be observant/take action as needed. Public safety is responding.” At that point, even though I knew that Watts Hall was about three-quarters of a mile from the classroom in which I was teaching, we shut the door and switched on the news. I encouraged the students to check their phones and feel free to respond to any contact. Class was over. Spouses, parents, friends, and colleagues began to check in with everyone in the classroom.

Given the nearly instant news delivery we experience, it was only 10:07 before I began to receive emails and text messages from USITT friends around the country asking about my wellbeing and wishing the campus community their very best.

We later discovered the attacker had used his car to plow into a bunch of students at 9:52 a.m. and then exited the car with a butcher knife to stab anyone near him. By 9:53 a.m., a campus police officer who was in the area responding to a fire alarm engaged with the assailant and shot him dead. The event was actually over by the time the campus alert had been issued, but uncertainty and an abundance of caution did not allow the all-clear to be offered until 11 a.m.

In our debrief after this event, all of us marveled at how well all of the emergency systems had worked and rejoiced that all 11 of the injured victims were expected to fully recover. I found it ironic that the fall issue of TD&T had contained a special section on event safety. Based on the incident of Nov. 28 and informed by the resources provided by the Institute, we have reviewed our protocol for such emergencies to make sure that we were not missing anything. I hope that we never have to put any of those plans in to action.

Two phrases, central to my being, continue to resonate after these events. The first is “Be Prepared” and the second is “Be not afraid.” I wish you all nothing but the greatest of possibilities for 2017 and will trust that you remain both prepared and unafraid.

Mark Shanda

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail Mark at Shanda.1@osu.edu.