There are somethings that are too crazy to make up. And this is one of them. Faculty and staff at Oakland University in Michigan are being trained to fight off would-be gunmen...with hockey pucks.
The training is being organized by OU's faculty union, the American Association of University Professors, and conducted by OU Police Chief Mark Gordon.
“We believe that once faculty have been trained in what to do in an active shooter situation, they will be able to share that information with students to provide a more secure learning environment,” AAUP President Tom Discenna told WDIV-TV.
Gordon said in order to "fight effectively," students, faculty and staff members "need to be prepared to throw objects that are heavy and will cause a distraction."
The idea came about when Gordon was conducting a training session on how to survive an active shooter. One of the attendees asked what students and staff can do to protect themselves since the university bans weapons. Gordon, a former hockey coach, recalled being stuck in the head with a hockey puck, saying it "caused a fair amount of damage to me."
"It was not a well-thought-out strategy," Gordon told The Detroit News. "It was a spur-of-the-moment-thing that had merit to it and kind of caught on."
According to Discenna, he heard that throwing items at potential shooters is something that is well received by law enforcement. When Gordon came up with the hockey puck idea, the AAUP decided to take on the cause and began purchasing necessary items.
"We thought 'yeah, that is something that we can do,'" he said. "We can make these available at least to our members and a fair number of students as well."
One faculty member, Garry J. Gilbert, was skeptical of the idea.
"My first reaction was: You are talking about facing an assault weapon and asking us to fight back with hockey pucks? It sounded silly," Gilbert said. “Then I went through the training session, and it all made sense. None of us want to face an armed assailant. Students will look to us for leadership in a situation like that.”
Gilbert eventually signed up for a training session utilizing the hockey pucks.
“If we have to do that (fight), Chief Gordon has shown us you can surprise or disarm an assailant with an object. Grab anything you’ve got ... a stapler or book ... anything you’ve got and be prepared and charge him," he said. "Maybe he can be distracted by having things thrown at him, and you can limit injuries and loss of life. It won me over. “
The faculty union hopes the hockey pucks will help with their fundraising efforts to put interior door locks in the university's classrooms. So far AAUP and the student congress have each given $5,000 towards the goal. Eventually funds will run out for the hockey pucks.
"As far as the hockey pucks are concerned, I expect eventually we'll run out of money to give them to people," Discenna said. "Maybe students will buy their own. It's just the idea of having something, a reminder that you are not powerless and you are not helpless in the classroom."
800 hockey pucks have been handed out to faculty. AAUP is working with various student groups and organizations to distribute an additional 1,700 to students on campus. Each hockey puck includes the union's logo on it and costs 94 cents to produce.