The real story behind the hockey pucks

The sound of gunshots are heard across a university’s campus. Instantly students are alerted there’s an active shooter on campus.

It is what many would believe to be the worst possible situation to happen on a university campus. Over the past 11 months, active shooter situations on school grounds have been occurring at an alarming rate. As of Nov. 29, 2018 there have been a total of 86 reports of gunfire on school grounds according to Everytown Gun Safety.

A bill is passed

On Oct. 1, 2018, Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) passed C.B. 19-09, “a Bill to improve defenses against an active shooter at Oakland University through the purchase of door locks for classroom doors,” according to the public document.

OUSC felt the need to draft the bill after speaking with Tom Discenna, president of Oakland University’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (OUAAUP) about the issue with OU’s classroom door locks.

“They explained the safety issue that the current door locks created,” former OUSC Judiciary Chair Tyler Fox said. “Basically with the current door locks, if a professor steps out into the hallway to lock the door, they potentially put themselves in the line of fire while also alerting a shooter: Hey! There’s a bunch of kids in this classroom they were trying to lock. So all around it’s a very unsafe situation with the door locks.”

The bill was sponsored by Tyler Fox and brought to the OUSC legislators with support from OUSC Vice President Brittany Kleinschmidt, OUSC Legislator Julia Alexander, and OUSC President and Tyler Fox’s twin brother, Ryan Fox.

Bill C.B. 19-09 was unanimously passed by every legislature in OUSC and put into motion.

Hockey pucks for bucks

With the passing of the bill, OUSC and OUAAUP teamed up to fundraise money to replace the current door locks on campus. The union came up with the idea to raise the money using hockey pucks, an idea Oakland University Police Chief Mark Gordon mentioned in an active shooter training session with OU faculty. It is meant to be used as the last line of defense against an armed assailant.

“It was just kind of a spur-of-the-moment idea that seemed to have some merit to it and it kind of caught on,” Gordon said in an interview with Campus Safety Magazine. “[Hockey pucks] have enough mass to cause injury, small enough to be thrown, [are] portable and they’re not considered a weapon.”

Members of OUAAUP liked this idea and decided to purchase 800 hockey pucks for faculty and an additional 1,700 pucks for students. OUSC has also purchased an additional 1,000 hockey pucks for students. Each puck cost 94 cents and is labeled with an identification number for people to make a voluntary donation to change the door locks. The fundraiser is being conducted by the All University Fund Drive, and interested parties can put in the identification number 33395 in order to make a donation.

PR crisis or publicity stunt?

When news of the university handing out hockey pucks to use against an armed shooter, many national media outlets picked up the story, stating the university was telling faculty and students on campus to use these in the event of an armed shooter. However, according to Ryan Fox, this information is far from the truth.

“I am frustrated with how there was a great deal of misreporting that went on and how the major news networks like CNN, even The Detroit Free Press, ran articles that were just outright wrong about how we were arming and training teachers,” Ryan Fox said. “I mean for goodness sake, no sane person is going to think that’s the solution.”

Many members of the OU community believe the hockey pucks are just a publicity stunt for the university. OUSC Student Services Director Mackenzie Hill confirmed this in an article on The College Fix, and in some ways it was according to Ryan Fox.

“It certainly has elements of that in the sense we wanted to get publicity and we wanted draw attention, but it is to accomplish a practical goal,” he said. “Our goal isn’t to just to draw attention to student congress… This was just to accomplish a goal and I think we’ve done that to an extent, and really, I won’t consider it done to its fullest extent until I know these door locks are getting paid for.”

Following the national media attention the hockey pucks got for Oakland, the university released a statement on its official Facebook page stating, “There have been efforts to raise funds to support the installation of additional interior locks on classroom doors. The University is also contributing to covering the cost of these additional locks. Oakland University wishes to emphasize and reiterate that the idea of fighting an armed attacker with a hockey puck was offered in the context of a last line of defense in an active shooter situation.”

The crux of the issue

Despite all of the national attention on the use of the hockey pucks as a defense against an active shooter, many news organizations failed to touch on what the true issue at hand was for the OU community. The safety of OU students and faculty.

Many members of the OU community believe the university decided to make a contribution to the getting the door locks replaced simply because of attention the media gave to the issue.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in OU’s administration that’s cackling in a corner going, ‘Haha! We’re just going to leave them unsafe.’ I don’t think there’s an evil villian per se,” Tyler Fox said. “It is disappointing to see that after the national attention, something that I would consider a bare minimum safety requirement isn’t being addressed.”

OUSC has set aside $5,000 to go toward changing the locks on all of the university doors according to bill C.B. 19-09.

“Overall, I hope that students understand that far more of student congress’ money went to door locks directly than to the fundraising efforts itself,” Ryan Fox said. “…Overall, we’re just hoping we’re going to be able to make OU safer, and really that’s what this is all about is trying to keep students safe.”

Despite all the efforts made for raising the money to improve campus safety, many wish Oakland would cover the rest of the cost to get the door locks replaced.

“Part of me wonders if we’ll have to go on CNN or something, and then OU will pay for them,” Tyler Fox said. “Apparently ‘The Daily Show’ isn’t enough.”