The shooting yesterday on the UCLA campus highlights the need for security review and crisis planning in all educational institutions. Despite a sophisticated mass notification system, students discovered that the most basic but necessary security device, a simple door lock, was absent in many classrooms. The ability to lock the classroom door is the first line of defense against an active shooter during lockdown. A secure door lock keeps an armed individual outside of the classroom and away from sheltering students until first responders arrive. UCLA engineering student Pranasha Shrestha posted on Twitter “Doors open outward with no locks so we had to improvise our own locking mechanism.”  Students in her classroom secured the door by tying a belt and a projector cable to a table.

According to student Manuel Rodriguez, one auditorium classroom had doors that were fixed open, requiring a wrench to release them and lockdown the large room. Facing the reality that they could not shelter safely in the auditorium, he and his professor led approximately 120 students down the hall to a room with a door lock.  Some sheltering students even searched the Internet for “how to lock a swinging door,” according to student Daphne Ying. Social media posts showed images of cords and belts used to secure doors that do not have locks and open outward.

The images call into question the state of campus safety and crisis readiness at UCLA.

UCLA Provost Scott Waugh stated, “Our primary goal right now is to review all of our security procedures to make sure our campus is as secure as possible. We were pleased with the way that notifications went out, troubled by some reports of unlocked doors, but we want to review everything and make sure that the campus is as safe as possible.”

Students stated that UCLA does not conduct campus lockdown drills such as those some had experienced in high school. Drilling with such a large group of people may be unwieldy, however, faculty and staff should receive annual crisis response training. Building entrances and classrooms doors must be secured and made lockdown ready to ensure that students are safe in an active shooter situation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 1:06 pm:  The UCLA Campus is currently on lockdown following an active shooter incident in or around Boelter Hall, an engineering building. Early reports from university officials state that two individuals have been shot and that students have been instructed to shelter in place. CNN reports that agents from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are responding to the campus.