In my high school math classes, sometimes we were given small, individual white boards to complete activities. They were nothing special, and we usually liked getting them just because they’re fun to write on. I’m sure that other schools probably used these white boards also, and probably for a similar purpose.
Now imagine if those white boards could be used as shields against gunfire.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) purchased 200 individual whiteboards for its classrooms to shield against gunfire and spent a total of $60,000 by doing so.
I think that is a great idea, in theory. I understand that with the school shootings that have happened in recent years — and shootings in general for that matter — there is a need to figure out a way to protect students.
However, I do not think that this is the way to go about it. With a campus population of over 4,000 students in 2010 (when the University’s website was last updated … Numbers could have actually increased by now), how will 200 white boards help protect all of them? Plus, there is the consideration of all the faculty and staff members, and additional people who could be on campus at any point in time.
Hardwire Armor Systems, the company that created these white boards, mentioned on its website that the boards are 18×20 inches without psychologically scarring students since they “blend well with the classroom.”
While that might be true, I don’t understand the logistics. Do a specific 200 students get to use these boards and carry them to all of their classes? Or do the 200 boards stay in a few different classrooms, and students just have to hope to be in those classrooms at the time, if tragedy struck and a shooting occurred?
It just does not make sense to me. In high school, I remember one teacher going over a plan of where we were supposed to hide in the classroom if someone broke into the school, especially if he or she was armed. Here at ISU, I have yet to take a class where a professor decides to go over that sort of information.
The UMES said that it is trying to be “proactive rather than reactive,” according to the Baltimore Sun, and I do applaud the school for thinking of creative alternatives to protect its students if necessary. But where did that $60,000 come from? Going over a plan of where to hide or go inside of a classroom is free and is not limited to only a few students getting protected.
These boards are not able to protect against all sorts of tragedies, and Hardwire acknowledged this when speaking to the Huffington Post. But I question the necessity at all, especially with learning their limitations. Just last week, there was the bomb threat in Schroeder Hall, so a whiteboard that protects against some gunfire would not have been sufficient.
Seeing as ISU is known for being a large education major haven, I encourage students in the field to consider what methods they will use to protect their own students one day. No matter what the weapon, it should be a teacher’s first priority to protect his or her students, and I believe that this is a good step toward thinking about this problem that keeps arising. I just think that there are more cost-effective ways of protecting more students.