Editorial: Safety concerns raise questions

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A Riverside City College student looks at the Rave Guardian app, one of the methods that the school uses to send out mass messages to students in emergencies. Photo by Stephen Day, Viewpoints

As Riverside City College students who spend 20 plus hours a week on campus, we do not feel safe.

It’s a common concern of any student as to what will actually take place during a campus wide emergency.

Riverside Community College District Board of Trustee Mary Figueroa expressed her concerns Feb. 21 at the RCCD Board of Trustees Committee meeting.

“It’s been a while since we actually talked about active shooters, but I want to know we have a pattern and a structure and an organizational set up between our police department and our mutual aid agencies,’’ Figueroa said, as she welcomed the new RCCD police chief, Chris Cano. 

She also expressed the need for communication so that all officers know their way around the campus, which they should already know.

We agree and appreciate Trustee Figueroa’s effort to establish that safety net.

It’s troubling to know that the officers might not have a sense of direction when they step on campus. How can they protect us with no knowledge of where to go?

There is also no call to action by RCC to educate their students on what to do in an active shooting emergency. The RCCD website offers informational pages on what students should do or how to react when an active shooting occurs, however it’s vague. There needs to be an interactive way for us to learn and be prepared if something were to occur.

Another important factor to add to campus safety discussion is our vulnerability as an open campus. Doors aren’t always locked and campus police response can be unpredictable. There is no immediate force to keep violence at bay.

Even after classes are over for the day, many classrooms are still left unlocked with the ability for anyone to walk in.

 There are lock blocks on some doors throughout the school but not every door has them. If this is a safety mechanism, why doesn’t every door on campus have a lock block?

These are just a few of the many questions students don’t know the answers to. We should be well informed of safety procedures without having to dig for the answers ourselves.

We can’t be blamed for having safety concerns because bomb threats, shootings and other countless acts of violence are so frequent.

In the last two years, both the University of Virginia and Michigan State University have experienced school shootings, resulting in six deaths and seven wounded. That’s not even the worst of it.

Closed campuses such as, Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas for example, have fallen victim to mass shootings.

If this has occurred on open and closed campuses, how can we be sure that RCC is not going to be the next target?

In our newsroom we openly discuss our safety concerns and how we can keep, at least, our room safe and protect one another.

We spend early mornings and oftentimes late nights in the newsroom producing the campus newspaper. We’ve made it a point to never leave the room alone after dark, walk each other to our cars and usually keep our door locked.

Why? Because we can’t be blind to the fact that anyone, students included, can step foot on campus armed or have intentions of inciting any kind of violence.

There needs to be a clear line of communication between students and those in charge of our safety about all protocols and the plan of action if there is an active shooting of any sort that possibly threatens the campus.

We deserve to feel safe at school. We deserve to be informed without needing to inform ourselves.

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