Joseph Salamon, News Editor
Clark Hall is one of the oldest buildings on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and its classroom doors may be a cause for safety concern. Many students attend classes in Clark Hall, which is near the center of north campus at UMSL.
Students today have grown up hearing about mass shootings and threats on school grounds. With the media placing an emphasis on those occurrences, many students and activists have raised awareness to voice concern about safety on campuses across the country.
According to Allegion, an international security company that provides products and solutions for homes and businesses, there are certain practices and situations that do not mitigate risk in the event of a threat. One of these safety concerns addressed by Allegion is hardware requiring doors being locked from the outside, increasing exposure to conflict in the hallway. Another is school doors that don’t automatically close, which could prevent them from being in ready position in an emergency lockdown.
With locks on the outside and no automatic closing function, the doors in Clark Hall violate both of these safety concerns addressed by Allegion. Someone who noticed the potential safety concern was Associate Teaching Professor Jill Alexander. “I noticed that the doors open into the hallway very quickly,” Alexander stated. “My previous employer had mandatory active shooter training, so I have been trained to always take note of both exits and securing my surroundings.”
While Alexander has crisis training experience from a former employer, students and some professors do not have the same training. A poster on a few of the doors in Clark Hall feature an “Active Shooter Response” plan. The plan consists of four steps that build upon one another if the previous step is unattainable.
The poster first suggests evacuation from the building. If that is not possible, the poster then suggests to hide inside the classroom, lock the door and block it with furniture, and be quiet. If neither of these work, the poster suggests fighting only as a last resort. The bottom of the poster suggests calling 911 when it is safe to do so.
While these posters around Clark Hall promote a safer space, UMSL Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management Larry Eisenberg ensures that the issue with the Clark Hall doors is being examined.
“Exit doors usually swing out to accommodate egress in the event of a fire. There is an UMSL Safety Committee, and also a UM System Safety Committee,” Eisenberg stated, “[and] both are looking into potential new door configurations campus-wide to address the concerns of door locking and door swing direction without compromising fire safety.”
Though Clark Hall has not undergone any major renovations since being built, Eisenberg and the UMSL Safety Committee are constantly looking to address any safety concerns on campus. “Facilities Management always gives the highest priority to the safety of students, faculty and staff,” Eisenberg stated.