Student senate votes in favor of hiring armed officer for campus

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Hannah Smith, Staff Writer

The Associated Student Senate voted “yes” Friday in a split decision to hire an armed guard  for the campus.

Having an armed police officer on campus has been a highly debated topic in both the Student Senate, as well as the Academic Senate, which voted to oppose the measure on Wednesday.

The  student senators voted 8 to 5 Friday in favor of hiring a police officer full-time.

Two faculty members came to the meeting to speak in opposition of the proposal. They argued  that bringing a police officer on campus  is unnecessary, and the school should not be driven by fear.

“There is no evidence that the presence of an armed guard would be an effective deterrent,” said Lynne Stark, president of the Instructors’ Association.

“We’re not worried about someone roaming around and breaking a window at night. We’re worried about a mass shooting, and a single guard will not prevent that from happening.”

Priscilla Butler, an instructor in the English as a Second Language department, presented statistics on notorious school shootings, such as those at Virginia Tech and Columbine. She showed the senate that even though there were 14 armed guards on the Virginia Tech campus at the time of the shooting, 32 people were still killed.

Justin Perocco, interim student advocate, said has had good experiences with armed guards in his high school. He was not persuaded by Butler’s evidence.

“Sure it wasn’t a deterrent in Virginia Tech, but think of how many times it has been a deterrent, and we don’t have statistics on that [at this meeting],” said Perocco.

After hearing from multiple students and faculty, the senate became even more divided.

Some senators said that having a police officer on campus would criminalize students for minor things—such as skateboarding across the bridge. This is especially true because chances of having an emergency are slim.

Other senators said that if Erik Fricke, head of security, is advocating for the officer, then there is a legitimate need.

“If the security doesn’t think they’re adequately skilled to handle something, we can’t say ‘oh no they are’,” said Senator Brian Osgood. “This is the head of security saying we’re not adequately tasked to do this, and as students we can’t ignore that.”

Elie Katzenson, vice president of senate affairs, brought up concerns about the proposal costing City College a minimum of $109,000 a year. She suggested an alternate solution.

“I think there’s preventative measures, and then there’s just people talking because they’re frightened, and I don’t think that’s a good outlook to have,” Katezenson said. “I think it would cost a lot less money to just better train our security.”

Senator Adina Kuncz said that while the money could be used for hiring more teachers and adding more classes, it is all worthless if students don’t feel safe coming to school. She argued that the officer would give students and staff piece of mind.

The senate will meet next Friday at 9 a.m.