Nick Schulaner | The Jagged Intersection of Marketing and School Safety | SAFETY DOC PODCAST #114 [Podcast]

[Podcast] Nick Schulaner is a 21-year-old guitar-playing Digital Marketer and Mechanical Engineering Student. He has instructed in 2 programs teaching people how to do digital marketing so they can either promote their own small business or get jobs marketing for other people. He also has his own YouTube channel where he interviews other successful marketers and business owners. Because he’s so young, Nick has been able to see firsthand the type of fortifications schools invest in, as well as how those fortifications are perceived by the students themselves (spoiler alert: it’s not a pretty picture).

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During the 2013-2014 school year, Nick, (then) a student at a high school of 2000 students in Washington State, observed sweeping safety overhauls at his campus, including the installation of bullet-resistive window films and metal detectors at “some” of the entrances. Let’s examine the concept of “all in.” In American usage, the phrase “all in” began as a colloquial expression meaning to be in a bad spot—exhausted, worn out, and spent. In the game of poker, it refers to the moment when a player—whether out of bravado, recklessness, or desperation—bets all of his or her chips on a single hand. In other words, Nick’s school leaders were implementing a flurry of expensive and difficult-to-maintain safety measures with the presumed hope that these steps would satisfy panicked parents and perhaps increase school security.


Per Nick, “Yet, even after all those things were implemented, I distinctly remember one of my teachers telling my class something to the effect of ‘I really hope we don’t have a school shooting here because we (meaning the faculty) have pretty much no way to protect you kids if we do.’ If anything, you could argue that all the fortifications actively made things WORSE by lulling people into a false sense of security.”


Nick didn’t recall any time when school leaders asked students about safety concerns on campus or sought their input on what practices or devices might increase school safety. His friend who served in student government discovered that the collective student voice wasn’t of interest to administrators and ignored on serious matters, such as school safety. Nick shared that fights were a much more common occurrence at this school, noting a time when two girls duked it out in a hallway over a cupcake. Yes, a cupcake. And, don’t even ask what was happening in the woods next to the school!


Nick shared that the metal detectors made him feel that his school was safer…until a few weeks into the school year when, due to long lines and other obligations of the SRO, the fidelity of metal detector checkpoints waned and students were able to enter and exit buildings unchecked at the schools approximately dozen entrances.


Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is a formal program for teaching students positive and appropriate behaviors. A form of PBIS was in place at Nick’s high school and students received “Beamer Bucks” that could be redeemed for school apparel. He noted that the PBIS program was vague and the incentives would have been valuable if for things like pizza. Again, a “code of conduct” program implemented without student input.


Nick identified two reasons why people buy something. The first is to acquire pleasure and the second is to escape pain. In schools, the relentless pressure of parents to “do something” to improve school safety is the “pain” applied to the school board. Social proof, as Nick explains, is another powerful construct for selling safety. If you can show another school that has purchased a product, then the argument becomes, “That school made the investment to keep its schools safe…why aren’t you also choosing to keep kids safe?”


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Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at

Learn more about this show’s guest: Visit Nick Schulaner’s website

Purchase Dr. Perrodin’s Book: Schools of Errors – Rethinking School Safety in America