Campus lockdown at Kean alarms students

A section of Kean University's main campus Photo Credit: Marisa Gallagher

A section of Kean University’s main campus
Photo Credit: Marisa Gallagher

By: Marisa Gallagher

Kean students and faculty were notified via Campus Alert that a man had been carrying a shotgun near campus on the morning of Oct. 10.

“Shortly before 11 a.m. Campus Police received a report of a black male, approximately 5’6” to 5’8”, wearing a white Lakers jersey walking north on Green Lane toward Morris Avenue carrying what appeared to be a shotgun,” read a Campus Alert issued to students at 11:12 a.m. “Campus Police immediately locked down campus buildings in the vicinity.”

The Harwood Arena, Administration Building and Child Care Center all were placed on lockdown, while all other buildings remained open. No one was allowed to enter or exit those specific buildings during the lockdown.

At 11:42 a.m., students and faculty received another Campus Alert email from Kean University police.

“The individual described was located by Union Police off campus and was NOT carrying a firearm,” wrote Kean University police. “All campus lockdowns are LIFTED as of 11:40 a.m.”

Students and faculty reacted to the campus alerts in different ways, as some individuals were scared for themselves and their friends on campus, others were not alarmed by the emails they received from Kean police.

“I received information about the lockdown through the alert system. I was actually not at school that day. I was home, being that I commute now. I felt safe, but I didn’t feel safe for my friends that are still living on campus,” said Megan Turner, a senior at Kean. “Being that the campus is open and anyone can walk around it, security should be better. More police officers should be on campus to make the students feel safe at all hours of the day and night.”

Those who do not receive the campus alerts on their smartphone or computer mostly found out about the lockdown through other students and faculty.

“I only found out about the lockdown when I arrived at class,” said Cherrie Kipple, a faculty member in the communication department. “Everyone was there but one student, who I was told said she became alarmed and went home when she got the message on her cellphone.”

Jamaela Waiters, a student who commutes to campus, says a family member contacted her notifying her of the lockdown.

“My daughter attends the daycare center so yes, I was very scared,” Waiters said. “It was unnerving to know that I could not be there to protect her. I prayed for her safety.” Waiters also commented on classroom safety in campus buildings.

“With all the violence in schools, I was very shocked to find out there were not better security measures in place,” Waiters said. “We contribute to the universities funding and at the least we should feel safe!”

Students were allowed to travel throughout campus and only some buildings were closed because the suspected “gunman” was not sighted on campus.

“The person was NOT reported to be on Kean campus at any time,” wrote Emily Renkert of University Relations in an email. “As a precaution, Campus Police placed buildings located in the closest vicinity to Green Lane on temporarily lock down.”

The lockdown procedures that faculty and students are to follow can be found on the Campus Police website, in the Emergency Management Quick Reference Guide. The guide provides instruction on what to do when there is an active shooter or impending threat of violence on campus. Information for both internal and external threats is provided, which includes a checklist of procedures to follow.

“During a lockdown, all classrooms, office doors, etc. are to remain locked, if possible, until the ‘all clear’ is announced,” the guide reads. “Listen carefully for announcements made by law enforcement.”

More than 90 percent of the doors on campus have locks on them and all classrooms in the Center for Academic Success building have locks, Renkert stated in an email.

“The only difference in classrooms is that some of the older classrooms have a keypad lock, while others have a traditional handle lock,” Renkert wrote. “Each building, depending on its age and the facility manager at the time, is a little different.”

Despite the security provided, some students still didn’t feel safe.

“I felt like I was in danger,” said Victoria Gargano, a sophomore at Kean. “I think all buildings should have been [on lockdown] because it’s a small campus. The man could’ve traveled quickly to any of the buildings.”

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