- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Public college and university campuses across the country are required by federal law to have a plan in place to deal with massacres like this month’s shooting that killed nine students at a community college in southern Oregon.

In Illinois, a state law created after a 2008 mass shooting at Northern Illinois University requires the state’s more than 180 schools and universities to go further.

Lt. Todd Short of the police department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says the campus has a plan specific to each of its roughly 450 buildings, but for those in a building when a shooting occurs, the plans can be boiled down to two basic elements: “Here’s how we’re going to run out of the building. If not, here’s how we’re going to shelter ourselves in place,” he said.

Here’s more information on the Campus Security Enhancement Act of 2008:

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THE PROMPT

Former Northern Illinois University student Steven Kazmierczak walked onto the stage in a lecture hall at the school in DeKalb in February 2008. Using a shotgun and two handguns, he killed five and wounded 16 before killing himself.

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THE LAW

In the following months, the Illinois Legislature passed the new law requiring schools to create an “all-hazards” plan and file it with the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The law also provides recommendations, such as specifying which local emergency agencies might be involved and a line of succession of people who will implement plans.

One of the main things that sets Illinois’ law apart from the federal law is that it applies to private schools as well as public schools, community colleges and a number of for-profit schools.

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TRAINING REQUIRED?

The law requires all schools to drill at least once a year, but that requirement “can be satisfied with a full scale, functional or tabletop exercise.” The University of Illinois Police Department said the university does live training, but it doesn’t involve faculty or students, Short said.

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SHARING DETAILS

Local emergency managers and, as needed, emergency responders are to be included in the plans.

At the University of Illinois, the building-specific plans are also shared with employees who work in each building, but not students, who frequently change locations, Short said. Instructors are “encouraged” to read a short script at the beginning of each semester on how the plan works in the class’ building, he said.

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STUDENT AWARENESS

University of Illinois senior Luis Revuelta said he doesn’t know anything about the campus plan, and doesn’t recall ever hearing the script read.

On one hand, he agrees with Short that it isn’t practical for every student to know the plan for every building they’re in. That said, “It’s still kind of scary. I’m in the dark.”

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This version of the story corrects the last name of Northern Illinois University student Steven Kazmierczak.


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