Run down the back staircase of the library. Hide in the gym elevator. Fight back with pots and pans in the dining hall.

Run. Hide. Fight.

These are the basics in an active shooter situation. In my Survivor Wellness class, we broke into three groups and were assigned different places on campus. We had to come up with a plan if there were to be an active shooter. It took some innovative thinking and a survival instinct.

“I think it’s very beneficial, a personal safety plan,” police Chief Dave McCoy said. “It’s an unfortunate fact of life nowadays, but the times have changed.”

Although the assignment may seem uncouth and a bit startling, it was relieving to look at our maps and plans and know that if anything were ever to happen on campus, we were prepared in some sense. It’s not negative to prepare for the worst. In fact, with the sharp rise in mass shootings, it makes the threat a bit less scary.

A report released by the FBI last year confirmed the fears of many Americans; shootings were on the rise. From 2007 to 2013, there was an average of about 16 shootings per year, compared to an average of 6 shootings per year from 2000 to 2006.

As a campus, we are fortunate enough to have some of the best response times to alerts, and the university is ready for a variety of scenarios, including a mass shooting. The University Police Department is always looking to improve, and they work and train closely with other college campuses in the Richmond area.

“We hope that it never has to happen, but we train and think about it all the time so the members of our community don’t have to,” McCoy said.

Everyone wants to focus on gun laws and mental health, but regardless of any preventative measures we take, a mass shooting can still occur at any school, any shopping mall and any movie theater.

In a Huffington Post article, data from Everytown for Gun Safety, a group fighting to end gun violence, showed there have been an average of 1.37 school shootings for each school week. Although a majority of those shootings are at K-12 schools, there have been at least 27 shootings in the last year that occurred on or near a college campus.

If we cannot work to prevent mass shootings, which should be the ultimate goal, then we can at least prepare ourselves for the unlikely scenario in which a shooter opens fire on our college campus.

“Every incident, as tragic as it is, there’s something to learn from it,” McCoy said.

Contact reporter Jessica Dankenbring at