U Central Florida Student Who Killed Self Had Planned Campus Attack

U Central Florida Student Who Killed Self Had Planned Campus Attack

April 09, 2013

A former student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando committed suicide in his dorm room on March 17 after planning a campus attack. James Oliver Seevakumaran, who had multiple weapons and explosives in his room, pulled a fire alarm in his residence hall with the intention of shooting students as they left the building. Instead, he went back to his room and shot himself. Seevakumaran had not registered for spring classes but had stayed in the dorm. His roommate called 911 after being held at gunpoint. Police said they found writings showing Seevakumaran intended to attack the campus.

Later that day, also in Orlando, attendees of the annual conference of NASPA: Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education discussed emergency preparedness training. Jennifer Nailos, a doctoral student in higher education and student affairs at Indiana University at Bloomington, stressed the importance of prevention. Of the three stages of a crisis, she said, prevention receives far less attention than response and recovery.

The University of Texas at Austin has been revamping emergency preparedness training in the dorms to educate student resident advisers and professional staff. Last spring, Nailos and Kristin McGowan, a residence hall coordinator at Texas, found that staff members did not understand crisis protocol. Many staff members did not know whom to contact in an emergency, and did not know how to solve crisis-related problems. Nailos and McGowan used problem-based learning, acting out different scenarios, to discuss students' and staff members' specific responsibilities. Texas officials found that, after the education, students and staff were more confident about understanding scenarios and terminology, and about acting appropriately if something actually happened. The key to the program is active learning, not just handing out materials or hosting a webinar. The approach encourages critical, flexible thinking, because no two crises are the same.

Reality-Based Emergency Prep
Allie Grasgreen
Inside Higher Ed
March 19, 2013

Student Who Killed Self Had Planned Campus Attack
Quick Takes
Inside Higher Ed
March 19, 2013

Emergency Preparedness