Canadian College Orders Student Newspaper to Remove Video of Campus Lockdown Drill

Last week, administrators at a large Canadian college ordered the campus newspaper to remove a video and some photos from its website that captured scenes from a staged school lockdown.

As The Sheridan Sun, the weekly student paper at greater Toronto’s Sheridan College, reported, “The lockdown drill, designed both as a police training exercise and to test Sheridan’s emergency preparedness, lasted roughly 20 minutes and involved police playing villains, fake guns firing blanks and theater students playing victims in full costume and special effects makeup.”

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The seeming genuineness of the entire production is apparently what caused Sheridan officials to issue a censorship order. In the Sun’s video specifically (at least one copy still live at the moment on YouTube), a few faux gunmen in jackets and hoodies roam the halls and stairwells of a campus building; a “victim” plays dead on the floor with mock blood pooled nearby; police storm in and at one point engage with a shrieking student witness; and the whole shebang ends in a classroom/conference room with a brief firefight (the pop of guns firing blank bullets) and the pseudo takedown of the bad guys.

According to the paper, “The Sun’s coverage of the event had been prearranged and cleared with college and police officials a week prior to the drill, and no restrictions or stipulations were placed on the content prior to publication. Although the video and photo gallery of students wearing fake blood and wounds were clearly labeled as ‘staged’ or part of the ‘mockdown,’ college officials feared they might be disturbing to some local residents, parents and students and may negatively affect the college’s image.”

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Among the Sun’s many efforts to inform readers of the event and ensure everyone understood IT IS ALL A DRILL: a front-page story on the “mockdown” less than a week before its staging; a live blog of the drill and the prep that went into it that at times coupled seemingly gruesome shots with witty repartee (such as a photo of a wounded student victim with the words “Don’t worry, she’ll be okay.”); a subsequent story online recapping how it all went down; a statement embedded within the entire video and atop certain photos confirming “This is a training exercise”; and a full disclaimer preceding the photo series and video once more spotlighting the event’s fake nature.

Here’s a screenshot of the disclaimer:

1Apparently, all those efforts were not enough for Sheridan admins. After their imposed censorship, the Sun posted a new disclaimer, this time not preceding but in place of the video the staff originally posted to the paper’s website. Once again, see below.

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One Response to “Canadian College Orders Student Newspaper to Remove Video of Campus Lockdown Drill”
  1. It’s hard to have any sympathy for student newspapers who don’t set themselves up to be independent of the universities and colleges they cover. Another prime example, here.