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Letter to the editor: The university’s unacceptable handling of a potential gun threat on campus

RE: “Presence of armed police officers on campus sparks worry and confusion”

I feel the way the university has handled the situation regarding the replica gun to be unacceptable.

First of all, the method the university used to communicate the issue to students was not to a high enough standard. Posting on social media such as Twitter and Facebook should not be considered sending out notifications. In addition, although technical issues do occur, it is unacceptable that during an emergency situation, the university was unable to send out even an email to students. To simply rely on an app for emergency notifications is also irresponsible and unreliable. I, as a student, should not hear about major issues through group chats and rumours, but should instead be notified by the University of Calgary in a timely manner and not occur seven hours after the situation has been resolved. The university should have an action plan in place to ensure a prompt email is sent out to students informing them of any situations that may arise.

The degree of seriousness to which the university responded was appalling. Unfortunately, we live in a world where shootings in public places do occur. Although we should not live our lives in fear of these situations, we should be prepared in case such a situation were ever to actually arise. In the email sent to students, it was made clear that no “lockdown” occurred. To have multiple reports of an automatic gun on campus, replica or not, and to continue to allow students to attend classes and move freely on campus is absurd. A lockdown should have occurred and the university should have encouraged students to stay off-campus. 

Finally, it is almost understandable that the university tried to avoid mass panic by controlling the information and not overreacting. However, it would be much more reasonable and acceptable to have the university take the reports seriously and notify students fully. The university also should have taken action rather than keep students in the dark. By trying to avoid panic, the university could have put multiple student lives in danger. Also, student panic increased regardless and campus felt less safe by the arrival and presence of armed police. The armed police were the right action however, it was due to the lack of information and communication to students that caused the confusion and panic.

Had the replica gun been real, the university would have been ill-prepared to handle the situation and countless lives would have been put needlessly in danger. However, I see this as an opportunity for the university to prepare and put into place a more suitable action plan in case of future situations. 

—Wylie Pietsch

Letters to the Editor published in the Gauntlet‘s opinion section do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board. The Gauntlet retains the right to edit submissions for brevity and clarity.

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