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Langara emergency procedure plan ready, but not well known among students

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Reported by Chelsea Powrie

Langara College has emergency procedures ready in case the campus is ever threatened by a violent assault on campus, such as the stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary earlier this month.

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Memorial outside Dawson College after the 2013 shooting. Across North America, school attacks are not unheard of. Submitted photo.

In recent years, several campuses in North America – from elementary schools to colleges – have been targeted by assailants with firearms and other weapons.

In the event of an active shooter, the blue emergency assistance towers located throughout the campus grounds will broadcast information and instructions, as will interior ceiling speakers in classrooms and buildings, according to the college’s website. The head of security at Langara, David Aucoin, did not respond to a late request by The Voice by press time.

Langara is a member of the B.C. Post Secondary Emergency Planners’ group, along with other local institutions. They meet three times a year to discuss strategies for emergency preparedness.

Potential room for improvement

Though she had never considered the possibility of an attack before, Rachel Empson, a Langara student, said she thinks the college should better explain what students should do in case of a violent act on campus. According to her, Langara could put some posters up – just like they are doing with the new sexual harassment policy – to raise awareness among students.    

“I wouldn’t want to see an increase in security just for show. Langara, I guess, could maybe advertise that they have a policy, because I didn’t know,” said Empson.

Prevention is key

Glen Magel, director of safety and security at BCIT and member of the planning group, said that the problem of dealing with violent incidents is that they are over in seconds, but the consequences are lasting.

“The very difficult part is how do you take your community back after you’ve been exposed to a horrific event,” Magel said. “What’s really important with [preventing] active threats is the training, the education and how you exercise that in an emergency operation centre.”

Erin Aberle-Palm, a second-year Studio 58 student at Langara, said that she feels safe at school.

“What happened [in Abbotsford] is awful, but I didn’t hear that and think it would happen here,” Aberle-Palm said.

Langara College’s security team could not be reached for comment other than by email.

With files from Jenna Tytgat

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