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Penn State Adopts ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ As University’s Active-Attacker Response

Penn State will replace “StaySAFE” with a nationally-recognized program — “Run. Hide, Fight” — as the official university plan to help students, faculty, and staff be prepared for a violent attack.

As the name suggests, the program uses three courses of action, as provided by University Police:


  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Make sure it is safe to leave the area you are in. Use your eyes and ears to determine if it is safe to run.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Keep your hands visible.
  • Once in a safe place, call police and give detailed information about what is happening.
  • Don’t assume someone else has already called the police.


  • If unable to run from the danger, your second option should be to hide.
  • Find a place that’s out of the attacker’s sight and remain quiet.
  • Do not huddle together, because it makes an easy target.
  • Lock and barricade doors and shut off lights.


  • Fighting is a last resort to be used only when your life is in imminent danger.
  • Find an object to use as a weapon, such as a fire extinguisher, backpack, book or chair.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the attacker; commit to your actions; work with others.

“Moving toward the ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ program, we are providing our community members with a very simple, yet effective way to respond during active-attacker situation,” Penn State chief of police Keith Morris said. “The previous program that we had in place — ‘StaySAFE’, which was implemented in 2014 — still carried the same messages as ‘Run, Hide, Fight.’ However, it was a little less intuitive and not as well known.”

The program is endorsed at the state, local, and federal levels. It’s also the active-attacker response program at the majority of Big Ten schools. The goal with the move to “Run, Hide, Fight” is to maintain that consistent message for anyone arriving at Penn State.

“‘Run, Hide, Fight,’ because it is the national standard, is being taught as early as elementary school,” Morris said. “So when we have people come to campus now, students coming to campus, they’re already familiar with it.”

“Run, Hide, Fight” has a training video available on its website and University Police is offering in-person training — a 90-minute class with a member of the community-oriented policing unit that includes a walkthrough of the video and different elements of the program.

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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