EDITORIAL: Crisis response lacks sense of urgency

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CORRECTION: The date listed for the mass student text message has been corrected from April 10 to April 18.

Riverside City College students received a text message at 9:36 a.m. April 10 of a situation happening on campus, telling students to immediately shelter in place. 

Specifics were not given.

Half the Viewpoints staff was on campus while the others were not. Due to the lack of communication and clarity, we were all left to assume that the incident was extremely dangerous. 

Hours later, it was confirmed an unhoused man was wandering on campus carrying a knife. No one was injured.

It would take a full hour longer before the campus alert system let the students know that this was not an active shooter situation, something that many were assuming at the time. Students who were in class when the incident started were locked inside for more than two hours while the situation unfolded in the northwest corner of campus near the Child Development Center & Learning Laboratory. Classes were being canceled by professors who were seemingly just as much in the dark as the students were. Again many who were left locked in the classrooms still assumed it could be an active shooting situation. Due to the national climate those students were preparing for the worst scenario possible.

We have expressed our concerns before about the reliability of safety protocols and communication with all Riverside police force and school officials. Here we are again worried about what our school will or won’t do to protect us.

A 2016 shooting at White Park, which is located across the street from the Riverside Community College District offices, took over an hour and a half to be reported to students, according to a story previously published by Viewpoints. The shooter initially got away on foot and White Park is one mile away from RCC. Like the most recent incident, rumors flew on social media.

Not much has changed in seven years.

This time, the campus announced the “all clear” at 12:22 p.m. and students were released from their classrooms and allowed to leave. In those three hours students and staff could have been communicated with and protected better. The man who presented a danger to the RCC community was secured in the northwest corner of the campus. While that was happening there was no extra police or security communicating on actual campus what was going on.

If there was an incident on the campus that required students to be locked into their classrooms for several hours, then why wasn’t there any police presence on campus to enforce the shelter-in-place orders, or to actually lockdown the campus? 

It is unconfirmed if all students are properly signed up for these resources. Members of our staff received text and phone call alerts from three different numbers. 

The system that potentially could be the only communication with what’s going on outside a lockdown, is disorganized and leaves students out of the loop.  

It’s clear campus officials are being reactive instead of proactive.

The Viewpoints editorial board feels the RCC administration needs to take a serious look at its current policies regarding threats and safety incidents on campus. Releasing information in a timely manner would quell rumors easily spread via social media and alleviate the mental trauma associated with being in a lockdown situation.

There have been 172 mass shootings in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. It’s not even May.

The handling of the college’s recent lockdown proved that if we did experience an active shooter situation we would be unprepared and in danger. RCC needs to make the safety of its students first priority.

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