This article has been updated to reflect the version in print on Dec. 8.
Campus officials released an informational video outlining how to respond to an active shooting on campus. But hours after its release, few students surveyed said they had watched the video.
The emergency preparedness video was shared with the Yale community in an email from Director of Public Safety and Chief of Yale Police Ronnell Higgins and Director of Emergency Management Maria Bouffard. The administrators said in the email that while the video may be disturbing, it is important to watch it in order to prepare mentally and logistically for a shooting on campus. Senior Advisor to the President Martha Highsmith said recent shootings around the country did not influence the content of the video. But she said heightened interest from students and faculty about how to prepare for such an event contributed to the decision to making the video more accessible. Janet Lindner, deputy vice president for human resources and administration, said the video — which was made “well before” the mass shootings in Paris, California and Colorado — has been used during small training sessions for some time.
“Particularly with tragic events happening every week, we wanted to give information to the community in as widespread a way as we could and let them watch it on their own,” Highsmith said. “Doing small training sessions across the University was effective but didn’t reach everyone as quickly as we wanted them to.”
But 25 of 29 students interviewed Monday evening said they had not yet watched the entire preparedness video, often citing finals and workload as reasons for not doing so.
Tanya Shi ’17 said while she believes freshmen should be mandated to watch the video during orientation, she doubts the Monday email will prompt students to watch it.
“I don’t think many students will watch the video,” she said. “Students get so many emails, so a lot of us just don’t click on many of them.”
Bouffard stressed that students should pay attention to the video and develop personal plans based on its advice. Given that active shooter situations happen quickly, Bouffard said students should have a plan in place so their responses can be equally swift.
The video was shot in different locations on campus and presents a number of ways Yale community members might encounter an active shooting situation. Scenarios in the video include a shooter entering a big room, faculty hiding in a small room while a shooter is at large in their building and community members taking shelter in place while a shooter is elsewhere on campus.
The video’s takeaway message was to “plan, evaluate [and] respond.”
Recommended responses include evacuating, sheltering in place — or as a last resort — taking aggressive action against the shooter, Yale’s Emergency Management website reports.
Laurence Bashford ’18, who did watch the video, described it as “eye-opening.”
“It was so much more frightening to see it recreated in the context of such a familiar place,” he said.
In the email, Higgins and Bouffard said the video was intended as a learning tool to increase the likelihood of survival in the event of a campus shooting. The email advised members of the Yale community to be aware of their surroundings and to be prepared to respond to such an emergency.
“A heightened awareness is something we are all learning to live with,” Lindner said in an email to the News.
She said students should continue with their normal lives, knowing that Yale’s public safety professionals are regularly training and planning for every imaginable scenario.
Lindner, who served as executive producer for the video, said though the chances of a mass shooting are slim, the Yale community should do everything possible to think about what they would do in such a situation.
“We hope this is something that never happens at Yale, but no place is immune, as events in recent days and weeks make tragically clear,” the email said.
Highsmith added that she hopes the video helps viewers mentally prepare for potential on-campus crises.
“I hope viewers mentally rehearse, as hard as that is and as disturbing as that might be, so if they were ever encountered with a horrible situation, they would have some mental preparation in terms of what to do,” she said.