UK needs to do more to promote safety in an unpredictable world


Jack Weaver

Police work a scene after responding to reports of shots being fired on University Avenue on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Gracie Moore, Reporter

Following the shooting at Michigan State University on Monday, Feb. 13, shots were fired in an on-campus parking garage at UK early Wednesday morning.

The first alert went out at 1:28 a.m. when the initial shooting occurred. This alert included texts and emails sent to students as well as the campus wide alarm system telling people to seek shelter. 

The next alert went out at 2:14 a.m. with an update stating that it wasn’t an active shooter and the police department was investigating. 

Text alerts, campus-wide warnings and sirens woke up many students, while others didn’t learn of these until the following morning. 

Were the alerts enough? What happened to cause shots to be fired? What do students do in this situation? 

I woke up to first see a text from my mom, checking in around 3 a.m. to make sure I was safe. I hadn’t seen the alerts at that point, and I slept through the sirens, so I was unsure what had happened. 

Then I saw the alerts. 

“Shots fired in the area of University and Cooper Drive near Parking Structure 1. Avoid the area,” the first email said.

I live at the University Flats, less than a mile away from the parking structure on University Drive. 

My heart sank. Even though it wasn’t an active shooter situation, I was still shaken up from the shooting that occurred at MSU less than two days ago. 

This isn’t the first instance of gunfire to shake the UK community this academic year. 

In September, 11 UK students were injured in an off-campus house party shooting, resulting in another mass text alert

And now it’s like nothing ever happened. 

I didn’t hear any sirens or alerts. Neither I nor my roommates were woken up by any sort of warning, and the gunfire was right down the street. 

The outdoor alert systems and text alerts are great safety features, but they don’t seem to always reach students in a timely manner. 

Maybe I’m just a heavy sleeper, but for the sake of students’ safety, it worries me that so many weren’t aware of the incident until hours after it was cleared. 

I understand that shots are fired in areas throughout cities often, but on-campus gunfire and shootings shouldn’t be such common occurrences throughout the United States. 

There may not be much that can be done for better safety across the nation, but UK can do better when it comes to preparation as well as warnings. 

Like I mentioned earlier, the outdoor sirens seem to work for those outside as well as reaching some inside, but they aren’t always loud enough to reach everyone. These sirens are placed in the blue emergency notification towers placed around campus. 

UKPD says that they use VoIP phones to reach buildings and share alerts, but that’s only helpful during the hours when buildings are open.

UK has a decent alert system in place, and I’m grateful for that, but I think there is definitely more that can be done. 

For on-campus incidents, there could be some sort of alert system inside university housing and buildings. 

This would give a better chance that students could hear when there are situations like active shooters, gunfire and other safety concerns.

In addition to a more advanced warning system, the university should prioritize teaching students what to do in the event of an active shooter. 

In an update issued by UK Police Chief Joe Monroe, he stated that the university has plenty of safety systems set in the event of shootings, such as active aggressor training. 

This is a great initiative, but I’ve never heard of such a thing on campus before. 

The university should have one priority: the safety of its students. And by making this a priority, they have an obligation to prepare students for as many situations as they can. 

Additionally, UK president Eli Capilouto sent a campus-wide email around noon on Wednesday, but it wasn’t regarding the early morning gunfire. 

Instead, Capilouto’s email announced that a candidate for Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement will visit on Monday.

I understand that it can be difficult to find the words to address situations like these, but addressing it even a little is better than complete disregard. 

Advertising active aggressor training and making sure that students know exactly what to do in an active shooter situation are just two ways that the university can increase safety.

Lone gunfire isn’t nearly as anxiety-inducing as living through a four-hour campus-wide lockdown like at MSU, but these situations are far too frequent to move on from so quickly. 

Many MSU students went to Oxford highschool, which had a school shooting less than two years ago on Nov. 30, 2021. 

Students should not have to experience one school shooting, let alone two completely separate ones in two years. 

I’m extremely grateful for the safety I do have, but I can’t feel safe in a world where so many people my own age and even younger are dying from gun violence. 

Wednesday morning’s events may not have been an active shooter situation, but it could happen. We see it too often to assume it could never happen to us. 

Thoughts and prayers only go so far. We need better safety systems. We need training. We need to know details, not just general statements. 

We need change.