Training & Exercises

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Brandeis will conduct a test of our emergency preparedness with a drill that simulates an active shooter in the university’s library. 

Given the seriousness of this exercise, please read the information below carefully. This page will be periodically updated with new information before March 21.


Active Shooter Training Exercise

Type of drill

Our training exercise will simulate the threat of an active shooter. The format of this training — which is designed to test multiple facets of our preparedness — includes interactive role-playing that, were it not for posted signs indicating police training is underway, would look and sound to a passerby as if a real crisis were unfolding. 

What will happen

You will likely hear emergency vehicle sirens and, if you are near the library, sounds that simulate gunshots.

These sounds are part of the drill. Emergency vehicles will enter the campus with sirens and lights, and, inside the library, simulated ammunition that sounds like real gunfire will be used. For the drill to be effective, it must seem as real as possible to all those participating in the exercise. At the same time, everyone’s safety will be protected.

How campus will be affected

The university will remain open throughout the drill. Classes and events will continue as scheduled. Signs around campus will alert visitors to the drill, and areas around the library will be cordoned off. The only campus location that will be closed during the drill is the library.

Reason for the drill

Exercises like this allow us to evaluate our emergency protocols, staff training and technologies, and ensure that all aspects of our preparedness plan are fully aligned to protect and inform the campus community in the event of real threats to the campus. They also enable police, firefighters and other responders to test their ability to work together with our own first responders in an emergency. Drills like this have become best practice in higher education and other settings, and are strongly recommended by emergency preparedness experts.

Date and time of our exercise

Wednesday, March 21, 2018, from 9 a.m. to noon; some emergency vehicles will begin staging behind the library at 7 a.m.


The site of the exercise will be the Brandeis Library. During the exercise, the library will be closed and inaccessible to all but drill participants. The immediate area around the library will be cordoned off, and emergency vehicles will be staged nearby. Prominent signage and barricades around the library will indicate that police training is occurring.

We ask that you obtain prior to March 21 any library books or other specific library resources you might need in hand that morning. Printing will be available in the SCC, and all online access to library resources and services will remain available. Normal library business will begin again at noon on March 21.

Well in advance of March 21, the library will communicate alternative locations for students to study during the hours of the active shooter drill.

Other participants

A critical component of the university’s emergency preparedness is our collaboration with local public-safety partners. This exercise will include the Brandeis University Police, BEMCo, the Waltham Police, the Waltham Fire Department, the Bentley University Police and Cataldo Ambulance. Their vehicles, staff and uniformed officers will be around and near the library throughout this exercise.

Emergency communications

The Brandeis Emergency Notification System, or BENS, is used for emergency communications as well as weather notifications. This drill will also involve testing BENS, and you will see BENS messages.

Your role in this drill

During this exercise, you will receive voice, email and text messages, all indicating that a drill is underway. Notifications will reach you from one or more of the following sources:

  1. A text message through our BENS system notifying you that the drill has begun.

  2. An email from BENS.

  3. A phone call to any of your registered phone numbers.

You will also receive messages providing updates during the exercise. At the end of the exercise, you will receive a final BENS notification indicating the exercise is complete.

How you can help
  1. Today, please visit the BENS registration page. Follow the instructions on the left to register or update your information. 

  2. During the drill on March 21, observe signs redirecting you around the library, and prepare for the library’s closure in advance.

  3. During the drill, use caution on campus roadways and be aware of emergency vehicles.

  4. Make sure your friends, suitemates, classmates and others in the community are aware that what they will hear and see that morning is only a drill.

 In addition, please take a moment NOW to program the campus police department’s emergency telephone number — 781-736-3333 — into your cell phone. Seconds count in an emergency. 

What if an actual emergency occurs during the drill?

In such a situation, we would immediately send an BENS alert indicating “This is not a test” and initiate our actual emergency preparedness protocols and communications procedures.

Where can I study during the drill?

International Lounge and Levin Ballroom in Usdan will be open from 8 am to 12 pm as alternative study spaces. The Shapiro Campus Center computer lab will be open from 8 am to 12 pm and printers will be available.

How will other services in the library be impacted?

Information & Borrowing: The Information & Borrowing Desk will open at noon with the library.  Email service will be available by emailing from 8 am to 12 pm.  

Research Help: Research Help Chat and email will be available from 9 am to 12 pm.  Email for assistance.

Archives and Special Collections: The Archives and Special Collections reading room will open at noon.  

Writing Center: The Writing Center will open at noon.

Getz Media Lab: The Getz Media Lab will open at noon.

What if I need technology help?

Technology Help Desk services will be modified in the following ways during the drill:

  • The walk-in center located in the Goldfarb Library will be closed during the drill and will re-open at noon when the library re-opens.

  • The Technology Help Desk phone number (781-736-4357) and email support address will be open regular hours. We ask for your patience as response times may be longer than usual during the drill as it is impracticable to relocate the full support team.

Media Technology Services: Media Technology Services will provide phone (781-736-4632) and email ( services from 9 am to 12 pm. Classroom technology support will be available starting at 9 am.

What can I do if this drill triggers significant anxiety or concerns?

The Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) will have drop-in hours during the drill, and clinicians will be available in the Department of Community Living offices in Usdan. The BCC also encourages students who feel they may be triggered by the drill to think about what they may need ahead of time to feel more comfortable on the morning of March 21.