Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

Campus Security: How Secure Do You Feel?
By Laura Matteri

A prominent question has arisen over the last few days: “How Safe Is Your Campus?” Campus security, public safety, whatever your school calls them, how effective are they?

What does campus security really do? At Marymount Manhattan College, security guards check the ID cards of students entering dormitories and academic buildings, quite often addressing the student by name as the ID card is shown. It is very easy to flash an MMC Student ID card at a security guard and they won’t even stop to see if it’s really the student’s card. They also sit behind a desk and watch security videos, in addition to badgering students about their guests and guest policy.

On a college campus with numerous acres, security guards drive around in SUVs and break up underage drinking parties or catch kids smoking marijuana behind buildings. When campus parties get out of hand, security shows up to break up fights. What would they do if something serious happened; similar to what happened Monday at Virginia Tech?

There are no metal detectors installed in our buildings. There is no effort to prevent crimes, like the Virginia Tech incident, and somehow, that doesn’t feel right. Schools will go overboard trying to prevent underage drinking on school grounds, or drug use in their student dorms. Where is the effort to save our lives if, God forbid, someone pulls a gun in our school?

It’s sad to say, but it takes horrific events like Columbine and Virginia Tech to wake up our nation. There is no reason that tragedies such as those should have to occur in order for our deans and presidents of colleges to realize our schools need protection. Even if it means that students turn against students in looking into who “could be” a threat to our community, I would say that it’s important to keeping the student body alive and well.

Not to say that schools should go to such extremes as checking bags and thoroughly searching students every time they enter a building. But a simple walk-thru metal detector would satisfy me just fine. Imagine being the roommates of Cho Seung-Hui. The gunman of the worst shooting rampage in U.S. history was sleeping right next to them and they had no idea what he was capable of. Chances are they also didn’t know that Seung-Hui had guns in his possession.

In order to keep the nation’s schools safe, there needs to be a drastic change in the way we approach the work of “campus safety.” Sure, they can dial 911 and keep a stranger out of the building. But what about the people who already live there? In order to keep students feeling safe in their own environment, campus security really needs to be promoted into something more like, “campus protection.”

Perhaps the addition of available firearms would please more of the student body. Perhaps the addition of a police force, or our own bodyguards, or any other form of protection is what is really needed. Whatever the case is, it had better come along sooner than later or else copycats of Virginia Tech, or even new murderers could appear at any time. This is one of those situations where authority should act sooner than later.

No comments: