Students voice safety concerns

By Joshua Burciaga
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Oversight toward Riverside City College’s Cosmetology department has left many students feeling unsafe. Elizabeth Tovar Llamas | Viewpoints 

Every school has a duty to provide a learning environment that is both safe and sound, but this oath hasn’t been less honored at Riverside City College’s Cosmetology department.

Alyssa Lerme takes day classes at the Cosmetology department and voiced her concern about the lack of security, she said that there was an incident where a student’s car was broken into while attending class.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of great security, I don’t see a lot of it here,” she said.

Despite her concerns, Lerme said she feels safe.

Salma Khan, another day student, recalls how a woman was arrested in the parking lot for verbally harassing one of her friends.

Other than that, Khan has not experienced any other instances where her safety or the safety of others were at risk.

While many day students said they feel relatively safe, night students do not share the same view, indicating that safety issues each group of students faces are incredibly different.

Monica Carlin, a night student, expressed how the safety of nighttime students has been jeopardized around the facility.

“There have been times where I’ve felt a bit uneasy inside the building,” Carlin said.

Carlin described an incident where a male non-student walked into the women’s bathroom and how a female student, unaware of the situation, used the bathroom with him in there.

“The people at the

front knew and saw him walk in there but didn’t warn any of us and anything could have happened at that point,” Carlin said.

She also recalled an instance where an intoxicated woman behaved violently in the Cosmetology building as well as three different incidents where cars have been broken into.

“That’s why I try to get a good spot here and park towards the street, because I don’t want my car to be vandalized or anything like that,” Carlin said.

She adds that the college paid for a guard booth for the parking lot across the street from the building and she sees it as a “definite improvement.”

Kathia Sanchez, another night student, shared similar accounts of dangerous encounters and car break-ins.

“We don’t feel safe or we feel like something can happen to any of us,” Sanchez said.

She points out that the busy intersection in front of the department is a safety hazard for students.

“I was walking with one of my friends and a car was passing really fast and almost hit her … it’s dark so when they turn they don’t realize that there’s students

passing,” she said.

Peter Westbrook, department chair of the Cosmetology department, has not responded to requests for comment.

Sergeant Robert Kleveno of the Riverside Community College District’s Police Department brings up that security should be everyone’s concern and that there are steps that can be taken to prevent becoming a victim in the future.

Kleveno said that students should always lock their vehicles and keep valuables out of plain sight. He also suggests that students walk in groups and be aware of their surroundings.

“I can tell you that the officers in the district take the safety and security of the college community very seriously,” Kleveno said. “I would tell any student that … we are their police department and to communicate with us if there are not feeling safe or if they have a safety concern.”

Steps have been taken to build a new Cosmetology building, a move which could potentially move the department’s students to a safer area on campus.

In March 2004, the RCCD approved Measure C, a $350 million bond approved by registered voters living within the district. Bond funds can be used for the acquisition, design, construction, renovation and modernization of classroom buildings and other facilities on RCCD campuses or educational sites.

According to a 2012- 2013 report from the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, even though $173 million was allocated to RCC in 2004, it was not until April 11, 2013 that an Initial Project Proposal was submitted to the state for a new Cosmetology building.

This is not the first time that the Cosmetology department has been overlooked.

In a 2006 program review, it was indicated that due to the limitations created by the age of the facility, the program has had boundaries placed upon it that prevent it from working at its full potential. The department cited the need for a new facility.

They made this same indication in 2009 and again in 2012.

As of 2018, the building plan for the new facility has not left the proposal stage.