Tuesday afternoon started off as a regular day at school at IUPUI.
Around 12:50 p.m., I was in the Latino Student Association's office with some of our members when someone casually strolled in and announced, "stay away from the windows, there has been a man spotted on campus with a gun."
It took me a minute to realize what had been said, when I noticed everyone starting to look down to their phones and look around the room confused.
I opened my email account and read the latest message from IUPUI. It read, "IUPUI Alert! Man with long gun seen in a lot at Barnhill and Vermont." My mind automatically placed the name to an image, as we often walk around that area.
Before we knew what was happening, we were ushered into the student lounge of the Multi-Cultural Success Center. Staff then proceeded to go into the hallway and make this announcement to students walking by. Some of them shrugged, others came in. In the midst of all of this, all I could think to do was locate my younger sister. I had seen her minutes before the IUPUI email was received and I went into panic mode. I was then reassured that she was more and likely in a safe space. After getting through to her, she was able to inform me that she was in the building connected to mine and she was heading over.
Later, it was announced that professors were dismissing their students with no real clarity on where to go. Yet the common advice was "seek shelter and stay indoors." The messages seemed to be conflicting: Class is out, but stay indoors.
I feel we were rather unorganized and there was no clarity on what we should have done, except for selective staff.
Why doesn't IUPUI have protocol should something like this happen?
Why were professors letting their students out? It's a shame, really.
Despite all of the confusion, I was very appreciative of the phone calls and emails that were constantly being sent out. The staff at the MSC was also very cautious and constantly checking up on us. We kept informed through Twitter, Facebook and email.
After hours of being on lockdown, an 'all clear' message was sent out.
Afterwards, I asked student Mariana if she felt safe on IUPUI's campus. She said "No. It was really scary. The whole time I felt like crying because it was a reminder of all of the bad things that have happened and that could happen. I really didn't feel like IUPUI prepared us for this at all."
With no clear answers, this incident has left us unsettled, and with so many doubts, questioning the safety of our school.
Karla Lopez-Owens is a civic leadership major at IUPUI's School of Environmental and Public Affairs. She is a member of the Latino Student Association and co-chair of the 6th Annual Cesar Chavez Celebration Dinner scheduled from March 24 at 6 p.m.
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