Late night fire drills hurt students’ academic performance
By DYLAN BURKETT
Different types of safety drills are common place for anyone who has ever gone to school. Everyone has gone through them at some point in life because being prepared for the worst is a top priority.
Fire drills in the university are rather different from ones from elementary through high school. Unlike here, they are scheduled for some point during the school day to make sure that everything runs as expected and the buildings can and are being evacuated effectively. While fire drills here ultimately have the same goal, their timing can be quite arbitrary, and often occur in the middle of the night.
Each semester, Residence Life requires students to participate in three fire drills to practice evacuating the dorms. If one has classes throughout the day, it’s pretty easy to be outside of the building when a drill occurs during the morning or afternoon. On the other hand, the drills that take place in the middle of the night are actually very inconveniencing.
While it is easy to understand that the fire alarms must wake people up in order to alert them of an actual emergency, students are often dismayed when they wake up to loud sirens and have to wander around in the dark to find clothes and shoes and make it outside in a timely manner. Additionally, students who have 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. classes may have problems with these late night and early morning drills because the drills will interfere with their sleep cycles and make it difficult to wake up in time for class, or even fall back to sleep.
The most common reaction that I have experienced in drills has been that of most of the people on my floor running down the hall shouting obscenities to make sure that everyone wakes up and makes it to the designated marshalling point so that the hall passes the drill and doesn’t have to wake up at that time in the morning again any time soon.
My biggest problem with these inconveniences is that once I’m awake and have been outside for a while, my body is running and ready to begin the day, even though it could be anywhere from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. This is especially terrible because when we’re finally allowed to go back inside, I almost never can fall back to sleep. While this is just my experience, I am sure that there are many others here on campus who have had similar experiences and are highly aggravated by this situation.
One of the bigger issues with these drills is that they may affect students’ performance in class the next day. Many halls here on campus house a large number of residents; therefore, it is easy to assume that the drills do take quite a long time. With students being stuck outside and not allowed to leave, they’re missing out on time that they could be using to sleep or even finish assignments for classes that they may have the next day.
When I reached out to a resident assistant here on campus for answers on how they go about organizing these drills and what it is like to be on the other side of them, they refused to comment.
The importance of these drills is crucial to the safety of everyone here on campus, but there are obviously many issues with them. While it is important that our systems operate correctly, and halls can be evacuated in time, it is not worth risking the performance of students the next day.