NACOGDOCHES, Texas — In April, marketing students in Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business received funds from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create a program for identifying and confidentially reporting the behaviors of a potential active shooter to help prevent attacks at SFA and in communities.
As part of a competitive funding opportunity to develop approaches to prevent targeted violence and terrorism, DHS awarded $2,000 to students in SFA’s advertising and promotion course to create the EnLight program.
With the funds, the SFA students hosted an educational event April 27 during which attendees watched videos depicting the signs of potential active shooters and received prizes for answering quiz questions correctly.
“Though the DHS requested competitors develop projects that would diminish violent extremism, including bullying, stereotyping and overall violent behavior toward a particular class of people, these marketing students felt that school shootings represent more relevant challenges close to home,” said Dr. Marlene Kahla, professor in SFA’s Department of Management and Marketing. “The project was one of a kind in the competition.”
The students presented 10 proposals to Livia Hauck, their mentor at EdVenture Partners, the project manager of the DHS initiative, before EnLight was approved to move forward. EdVenture Partners offers projects to professors in universities around the world each semester, but the goal to diminish violent extremism was unique to spring 2022.
“We wanted to be sure members of our campus community know where to go for help if they become aware of possible plans for a school shooting or learn another student is having suicidal thoughts or showing signs of other violent behaviors,” Brayden Allen, entrepreneurship junior from Waxahachie, told attendees. “You’re not ratting them out. You’re being a friend.”
They also used the funds to create a website featuring EnLight’s slogan, “Together, we can do better,” and information on the concerning behaviors past attackers have shown: threats to others; intense or escalating anger; interest in weapons; sadness, depression or isolation; changes in behavior or appearance; thoughts of suicide or self-harm; interest in violence; talk of being bullied; and poor grades or attendance.
In addition, the site includes the following statistics from the 2019 DHS report, “Protecting America’s Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence,” for which the National Threat Assessment Center studied 41 incidents of targeted school violence at K-12 schools in the U.S. between 2008 and 2017:
- 100% of attackers exhibited concerning behaviors prior to their attack.
- 94% of attackers displayed concerning behaviors at school.
- 77% of attackers displayed concerning behaviors at home or in the community.
- 74% of attackers displayed concerning behaviors online.
- 66% of incidents included at least one prohibited behavior (threats to cause harm, violent acts, bringing weapons to school, suicidal statements) that was observed by classmates or adults and not reported.
At SFA, students are encouraged to contact Counseling Services or Health Services if they need confidential mental health assistance for themselves or others.
For the fastest response to an emergency on campus, students, faculty and staff can call 911 from the nearest campus phone or (936) 468-2608 from a cellphone to reach SFA’s University Police Department. Calling 911 from a cellphone directs the caller to the Nacogdoches Police Department.
To register for Jack Alert, the campus-wide emergency alert system, students, faculty and staff can visit sfasu.edu/upd/emergency-management/jack-alert.