Safety becomes hot campus topic

By Paul Villalobos

Valentine’s Day, a day known for love and affection with friends and family, was met with unprecedented bloodshed as 17 lives were lost in a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.

The shooting was carried out by Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student who was expelled from the school in 2017.

Armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, Cruz allegedly set off a fire alarm to draw out students and staff away from their classrooms, to maximize fatalities. In the midst of the chaos, Cruz was then able to blend in with other students fleeing the campus.

Cruz was later arrested by law enforcement and taken into custody.

Just five days after the Florida shooting, a 27-year-old man was arrested for threats he allegedly made on social media to shoot people on the Norco College campus. According to police reports, deputies found a loaded AR-15 rifle and “large amounts of ammunition” in his home.

As of Feb. 2018, there have been a total of 18 school shootings, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit gun control advocacy group.

With school shootings unfortunately becoming more commonplace, this leads the question as to whether Riverside City College is prepared to handle a potential ‘mass casualty’ event, and if RCC is safe campus for students.

“In my opinion students are safe,” RCC Police Sergeant Robert Kleveno said. “We have a well-trained staff.”

With RCC being an open campus it is inevitable that there would be some security issues, but Kleveno adds, “It’s hard to filter out people that shouldn’t be here. We have security challenges with that, but we back that up with vigorous police patrols.”

A majority of the students also agree that safety here on campus, for the most part, is fine.

“Security so far is good, as far as I’ve seen.” Adding, “I haven’t had any reason to not feel safe,” Kately Katenbrink, an RCC student, said.

“I feel safe. I’m comfortable with my surroundings. I don’t feel I have to look over my shoulder,” Samantha Diaz said.

However,  Diaz also indicated that, while she had never felt unsafe on campus, she says that there should be “more security. Maybe increase security presence.”

Could campus safety be improved?

“I’m sure there is a way but I’m not sure how they can improve safety because it’s a big campus,” Haley Evett, an RCC student, said.

In a time where schools are no longer regarded as safe, students across the country have taken steps to prevent another tragedy from ever happening again.

There have already been a handful of protests and even school walkouts across the country, calling for tougher gun laws in response to the shooting in Florida. Even here in Riverside, a “March for Our Lives” event is scheduled to take place March 24.

As students continue with their normal day-to-day routine, the thought of a potential mass shooting happening here, still looms on the back of many students’ minds.