Preparedness for potential on-campus shootings

Arianne Arciaga

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Sept. 19, Joseph Vicencio was arrested after firing multiple gunshots on San Jose State University’s campus. The shots caused damage to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library and parking structure. On Oct. 25, SF State student Valeria Villagomez, was shot and killed near Lowell High School, just a few minutes away from the SF State campus.

Shootings on college campuses are becoming more common every year. Between 2001 and 2016 at least one person was intentionally shot (excluding the shooter) on a college campus or within two miles of a college campus, according to a 2016 study by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, an independent non-profit that focuses on criminal justice and public safety reform. During the same period of time, 437 people were shot in 190 college campus shooting incidents in the United States. The study also reported that during the last five school years there has been a 24% increase in on-campus shootings. 

CNN reported that there have been 22 school shootings between January 2019 and July 2019. 

“It’s our responsibility as the associates students to make sure that students feel safe,” said Vice President of Finance for Associate Students, Andrew Carrillo. “And to make sure that [students] feel safe in the environment that they are actively a part of on the daily.”

In the Oct. 28 SF State finance committee meeting, committee members discussed adding a lock box to the doors of the Cesar Chavez building. The committee believes the locks would enhance safety measures within the building. The Cesar Chavez building is in the heart of the SF State campus, and where most students spend their time eating lunch, doing homework and relaxing. Carillo said colleges such as Cal Poly Pomona and other private institutions use these lock blocks on their campuses as well and used to secure the campus as a whole. 

Safety and security are one of the most important features to any college campus, according to the U.S. Department of Education. 

“Safety and security is very important on campus, as this is a place of learning and higher education,” said Joseph Lagano, a criminal justice major. “If people were to come to campus with a feeling of unease and danger no one would be able to learn at a high level.”

At SF State, the University Police Department (UPD) provides a push notification system — SF State Alert — that alerts students and faculty of any life or property threatening events that are happening on or around campus. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) requires all college campuses to send out immediate campus alerts about any emergency situation (similar to SF Alert) that is a threat to the health or safety of students and employees. Having the push notification system is the best way to alert students if there were to be an active shooter on campus, according to the UPD website. 

Active Threat Training is also provided by UPD to better prepare the SF State campus in case of an active shooter situation. The training helps students identify exits, places to hide and how to physically take action on a shooter (as a last resort). 

Though SF State is providing more safety and security to the school, Criminal Justice Professor Gina Jibrin said she believes the campus should also educate students and faculty on what to do when an active shooter comes to campus and how violence originates in the world.

“When we think of efforts for safety I think about the cultural ideas we teach our students,” Jibrin said. “Rather than prioritizing security and policing, [the faculty] have to think about the important violent issues on campus and educate our students on that.”

The California State University published a video on Feb. 15, 2018, a day after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 and injured 17 more. The video advises students on what to do if an active shooter were to come onto campus. There is also a reference guide on the UPD website that tells students how to mentally and physically prepare themselves in the event of an active shooter.

“At the end of the day you are trying to stay alive and trying to protect yourself,” Jibrin said.

Cal State Long Beach received a threatening email Oct. 7 warning the campus that there were plans to shoot up the college. The school immediately went into a full lockdown. Several photos began circulating online through social media during the campus scare showing students and teachers barricading classrooms that did not have functioning locks. Students complained about not being able to lock the doors, according to KTLA reporting. 

“Of course you know it doesn’t solve the issue of the widespread epidemic that we have but it ensures the safety of the students,” Carillo said.

For students who feel anxious and fearful about the safety on campus, the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), is available for students. If you would like to make an appointment contact (415) 338- 2208 or go to the Student Service building in room 205.