Shootings raise questions of safety in colleges nationwide

The Channels Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL


Antony Marchiando

Editorial Cartoon


The latest school shootings this morning horrifying the nation has forced us to ask ourselves, “how safe are we at school?”

A little over a week ago on Oct. 1, students at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, headed to their classes as usual with a certain sense of protection and security. By noon, a man had opened fire and the natural impression of safety on the campus was shattered.

A school is intended to be a safe zone for students, where they can learn and pursue their goals in a protected environment. Members of The Channels Editorial Board agree that it is essential to regain this sense of security among our peers by eradicating the stigma against mental illnesses, enforcing tighter gun regulations and promoting services on campus that inform students on how they can prepare for dangerous situations.

In recent years, the number of shootings has progressed so much that it’s incredibly difficult to grieve one disaster, when another occurs.

Since 2013 there have been 143 school shootings in the United States. The tragedy in Roseburg is only one instance, however it left 10 dead, nine injured and another community devastated.

When addressing the issue, President Obama pointed out that our responses are simply routine at this point. Obama also stated that we have “become numb” because of how often these disasters happen, and they will continue to happen as long as we fail to take proper action.

The ed board believes that on a national scale it will be especially critical to exercise tighter gun control, so that it will be more difficult to obtain deadly firearms.

As Americans will continue to obsess and fight for their right to bear arms, we have to try to find other alternatives so that we can feel safe once again in our communities. City College has already taken steps to increase police presence, set up emergency alarm systems around campus and instructed faculty to keep their doors closed at all times. But most of these measures don’t do enough to put our minds at ease.

The college offers personal defense classes that are beneficial to making students feel more empowered and in control. We believe that these courses should be advertised more, and active shooter training should be readily available so that we are all better prepared in case of a shooter on campus.

Preventing an emergency is just as important as obtaining knowledge that prepares for a potentially dangerous incident.

Following the Umpqua tragedy, Superintendent-President Dr. Lori Gaskin shared a message explaining that this is a call to action to increase safety measures on our own campus. She said that the college will attempt to, “intervene when [students] show signs of being at risk, and to be proactive in addressing their mental health and wellness needs.”

At the Academic Senate recently, a request was introduced by Laura Fariss to add a second mental health counselor to combat the increasing need. Background statistics from health assessments that Fariss provided stated that, “31 percent of campus counseling centers have waiting lists.” The need is clear and we should offer a solution to our students.

It is important to note that there is not always a direct correlation between a mental illness and a shooting. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3 percent to 5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness.”

There have been instances in which mental illness was involved in the tragedy, for example the devastating Isla Vista shooting last year. Offering another counselor on campus will simply provide more students with help if and when they need it.

There are many more steps that our society will need to take in order to ensure that our public areas and college campuses are truly safe and secure environments. But it can take years to truly change the attitude of national culture.

If City College students are provided with a way to protect themselves in case of emergency and are able to receive help if it is needed, then we will be making progress towards ensuring our school feels more safe again.