Lockdown drill loses integrity

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Mikaela Rabizadeh media editor

The lockdown alarm rings. It could be a drill. It could be a false alarm. It could be real. Whether we know the intent behind the alarm or not, every time that sound goes off, we should treat it with the same seriousness.

That is not what is happening.

The problem is not that students do not know what to do during a drill. I don’t doubt that students know the procedure; we have been familiarized with it since elementary school. However, students are dismissing the gravity of the situation. Instead of remaining silent, classmates are giggling or taking videos on their phones. Instead of congregating against the wall as quickly as possible, classmates are leisurely making their way to refuge.

In the event of a real emergency, the incompetence of one student to adhere to the procedure could put the lives of the rest of the students in danger.  Justifying this behavior with “It’s just a drill” is not an excuse. The entire purpose of a drill is to measure how students react in the case of an emergency. How are we supposed to know how the student body will react if some continue to treat it with indifference?

A large part of this problem is owing to the fact that students know about the drill beforehand.  Usually by word of a teacher or parent, students are habitually informed that there will be a lockdown drill during class.  This hurts the integrity of the drill. Many students will inadvertently be lax in their response to the drill, knowing that it is “fake.”  We need to reinforce a sense of urgency. Keeping the drills unknown to students and faculty is the first place to start.

The perfect example was the recent lockdown drill during passing period. This drill kept students on their toes–passing period was an unusual time to stage a drill, and many students had already left their first period classes. Those students were forced to find refuge in the classroom nearest to them, which is a realistic possibility if there is a shooter on campus. Emergencies are not convenient nor are they pretty. It is impractical to assume an emergency will always occur in the middle of the class period.

One flaw with this particular drill, however, was that some students were aware that the drill was to take place, while others had no prior knowledge. There was a notable discrepancy in the response between the two parties. The latter was visibly more attentive and more likely to adhere to the procedure.

Teachers also play an important role in eliciting the proper response from students. Teachers must be more active in demanding that their students treat the lockdown with urgency.  Too many teachers are taking a backseat when the alarm goes off when they should be a model for their students. This passive attitude toward drills ultimately creates a culture in the classroom that the students take part in.

The culture surrounding lockdown drills needs to change. Drills are important–too important to be executed in a passive, uncaring fashion. For the the collective good of everyone on campus, the faculty and student body should be doing better. Even when it’s practice.

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