Mason Clutter works in security and talks into the radio. Madeleine Barry / Collegian.
Mason Clutter works in security and talks into the radio. Madeleine Barry | Col­legian.

Hillsdale College altered its pro­ce­dures for active-shooter sit­u­a­tions this semester, though it still doesn’t permit licensed stu­dents, including vet­erans, to conceal carry on campus, a topic in national dis­cussion fol­lowing an attack on the Ohio State University’s campus Monday.

After the Hillsdale Police Department changed its pro­cedure for active shooters this summer, the college’s campus security office fol­lowed suit to align with the steps taken by city police, Director of Campus Security Bill Whorley said. Although college admin­is­trators dis­cussed allowing licensed stu­dents to conceal carry on campus in the spring, fol­lowing several shootings across the country, no such policy has been adopted, Chief Admin­is­trative Officer Rich Péwé said.

“It could happen,” Péwé said. “We con­tinue to think about that and listen to one another.”

Monday’s attack on Ohio State’s campus in which Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Somali-born student at the uni­versity, injured 11 people by driving his car into a crowd and then stabbed indi­viduals with a knife has increased dis­cussion on campus carry and pro­ce­dures for an active-shooter sit­u­ation nationwide.

Ohio State’s security department rec­om­mended stu­dents remember to “Run, Hide, Fight” Monday when the campus went into lockdown. It is similar to the mea­sures the college now teaches its employees called “Avoid, Deny, Defend.”

A product of Texas State Uni­versity from research on shooting sit­u­a­tions and their sur­vivors, “Avoid, Deny, Defend” reminds people to avoid attackers, deny attackers access to their location, and defend them­selves, if nec­essary.

“It’s very common sense, very basic,” Whorley said.

Hillsdale Chief of Police Scott Hephner said city police uses research on active shooter events to update its private pro­tocol. City police also works with local schools and busi­nesses to prepare for such sit­u­a­tions.

“All of our officers are trained in responding to these sit­u­a­tions, and we are always looking to update equipment that may be used in our response,” Hephner said. “These changes are to min­imize casu­alties and decrease the time to stop the threat.”

Whorley said he works with city as well as county and state police to align the college’s pro­ce­dures and rec­om­men­da­tions with theirs.

Addi­tionally, Hillsdale’s security office has imple­mented new ini­tia­tives to keep campus safe.

The department intro­duced the new Hillsdale College Emer­gency Response Team, or HCERT, this semester. It is a group of trained student vol­un­teers that can assist with crowd and traffic control, first aid, and other tasks, during an emer­gency on campus.

Security also has rec­om­mended pro­fessors now close and lock classroom doors during instruction to prevent attackers from gaining access to them and their stu­dents.

Some faculty members, however, have crit­i­cized this policy, arguing locking classroom doors is too much of a dis­tur­bance, Pro­fessor of History David Raney said. The doors in many aca­demic buildings lock from the outside and require a key.

“It can disrupt class, when a student leaves to go to the bathroom and is locked out or when a student arrives late,” Raney said. “The pro­fessor has to walk over and open the door and interrupt class.”

But the topic of campus carry has been met with even greater con­tro­versy at Hillsdale.

While it is illegal for people to carry firearms at the Ohio State Uni­versity because state law forbids it, Michigan law pro­hibits campus carry only for the unli­censed and in class­rooms and dor­mi­tories. As a private insti­tution, Hillsdale, however, can add restric­tions of its own.

The college does allow faculty members with con­cealed pistol licenses to have a firearm on them when not in a classroom, though it requests they notify Péwé’s office. This allows faculty members to be able to defend them­selves, stu­dents, and col­leagues in the case of an emer­gency and when first responders haven’t yet arrived, Péwé said.

Other than that, the college rec­om­mends stu­dents and vis­itors save the guns for the college’s John A. Halter Shooting Sports Center. The security office has a gun safe for stu­dents living on campus to store their weapons. It is also planning to build a sep­arate holder for the increased amount of archery equipment stu­dents are bringing to campus, Whorley said.

Per­mitting faculty members to carry and for­bidding stu­dents from doing so on campus aims to balance safety and security, Péwé said.

“We’re not inter­ested in it being a gun-free zone,” Péwé said. “We’re trying to be prac­tical.”

Raney — who is the John Anthony Halter chair in American history, the Con­sti­tution, and the Second Amendment — said he, however, dis­agrees. He said the college’s “one-size-fits-all” approach is “short-sighted,” espe­cially when it comes to not per­mitting stu­dents who are vet­erans from car­rying on campus.

“You end up effec­tively excluding a number of stu­dents who are emi­nently qual­ified and well-trained to be able to respond to a sit­u­ation involving some kind of campus shooter,” Raney said.

Beyond safety, Raney said he and some of his col­leagues have dis­cussed how the college’s campus carry policy hurts the cred­i­bility of the insti­tution that markets itself as “Pur­suing Truth and Defending Liberty Since 1844,” he said.

“The college essen­tially opens itself up to hypocrisy on this issue by, in fact, seri­ously lim­iting a student’s ability to exercise a con­sti­tu­tional right,” Raney said.

Péwé said the policy, however, rests within the mission statement of the college.

“What’s the essence of the college? Truth, liberty, high moral char­acter, high learning,” Péwé said “It’s important we carry out the mission and do so in the most effective way. We want to be safe and effective and have respon­sible people who want to do that as a deterrent.”

But Raney said the policy shows that the college doubts the respon­si­bility of its stu­dents.

“In the end, it boils down to trust,” Raney said. “Does the insti­tution trust its faculty? Yes. Does the insti­tution trust its staff? Yes. Does it trust its stu­dents? At this point, the answer seems to be no.”

Although Péwé said the college does have con­cerns over lia­bility when it comes to campus carry, Raney said the college could also become cul­pable, if an active shooter sit­u­ation were to occur and a student couldn’t defend him or herself, though he or she is legally eli­gible to do so. Indi­viduals must be at least 21 years old to have their con­cealed pistol license in Michigan.

“It deprives them, not only of a con­sti­tu­tional right, but a natural right to protect them­selves, to life,” Raney said. “That should not be a problem at a place like Hillsdale…We need to make sure theory and practice come together as one.”

The chance of an active shooter sit­u­ation hap­pening on campus, however, is low. Nev­er­theless, Whorley said it is important to be pre­pared.

“In any sce­nario, you should respond calmly, rea­sonably, and without panic,” Whorley said. “We’re trying to get people to stop and think.”

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Breana Noble
Breana Noble is The Collegian's Editor-in-Chief. She is a born and raised Michigander and studies politics and journalism. This summer, Breana interned in New York City at TheStreet, a business and finance news website. She has previously worked for The Detroit News, The American Spectator, and Newsmax Media. She eventually hopes to pursue a career in investigative journalism. email: | twitter: @RightandNoble