North Texas Daily

Campus safety protocol must be improved for better college education

Campus safety protocol must be improved for better college education

Campus safety protocol must be improved for better college education
September 14
12:30 2023

Content warning: this story contains language and content related to gun violence. Reader discretion is advised. 

College students are expected to embark on a journey of self-discovery, education and personal growth. However, the recent events at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have raised questions about a fundamental aspect of this pursuit: campus safety.

On Monday, Aug. 28, at 1:03 p.m., sirens blared pierced the tranquility of the UNC campus, with the warning of an “Armed and Dangerous Person On or Near Campus.” UNC Police instructed students and faculty to shelter in place, plunging them into hours of uncertainty and fear.

One glaring issue reported by The Daily Tar Heel during the UNC-Chapel Hill incident was the lack of information provided to students. Over the course of three hours, they received four Alert Carolina messages, leaving students poorly informed. Rumors ran rampant, painting a terrifying picture of the unknown assailant’s actions and whereabouts. Students could not accurately respond to their loved ones’ anxious inquiries, as there was a lack of reliable information. 

The ambiguity surrounding the suspect’s identity further contributed to the confusion. Images of an individual in police custody circulated, briefly suggesting the ordeal was over, only to be followed by claims the wrong person had been arrested. The rollercoaster of misinformation only deepened the unease.

In light of these disturbing events, it is not merely an option but a moral essential for universities across the nation to reevaluate their campus security measures. The age-old adage of offering “thoughts and prayers” in response to the rising specter of campus violence is woefully insufficient. Instead, we must embark on a journey of comprehensive reform to ensure the safety and well-being of students in educational settings.

In both the University of North Texas and UNC-Chapel Hill, The Clery Act mandates that Campus Security Authorities assume a pivotal role in guaranteeing all criminal activity is disclosed. However, complaints about uncertainty during the shooting at UNC were rampant due to authorities undermining The Clery Act. CSA should be meticulously trained and well-prepared to respond to crises with a level of swiftness and effectiveness that can mitigate harm and protect lives.

The Citizens Crime Commission of New York City conducted an analysis of incidents involving at least one person, excluding the shooter, intentionally shot either on a college campus or within two miles of one, leading to a student being shot. There were 190 shooting incidents, resulting in 437 individuals being shot, 167 tragic fatalities and 270 wounded. 

Approximately 2.5 million students were directly or indirectly exposed to gun violence through their enrollment at the 142 colleges these shootings occurred in. Perhaps most concerning is the undeniable trend of escalation, with casualties during the last five school years representing a staggering 241 percent increase.

These statistics underscore the immediate and compelling necessity for heightened campus security measures. The safety of students and faculty should be an absolute priority, and universities across the nation must take concrete steps to address this issue.

The UNC-Chapel Hill incident serves as a painful reminder we are not immune to the growing menace of gun violence on our campuses. The specter of fear should not loom over our educational pursuits, forcing us to wonder if our institutions will keep us safe. It is no longer acceptable to simply pay lip service to the concept of student safety. 

Instead, it is necessary for universities nationwide to take action by stepping up security measures, providing unequivocal guidance during crises and, above all, prioritizing the well-being of their students. Safety is not negotiable, it is a fundamental right everyone deserves.

The lack of robust campus security measures and the inadequacies in responding to crises are issues that cannot be swept under the rug any longer. It is not merely the responsibility of the universities and law enforcement agencies but also society as a whole to ensure campuses are sanctuaries of security.

Only through proactive measures, enhanced training and an unwavering commitment to campus safety can prevent such harrowing incidents from happening in the future. It is a collective responsibility demanding immediate attention and action.

The chaos and stress that unfolded during those hours at Chapel Hill were a result of inadequate crisis preparedness. In a world tarnished by daily gun violence threats, students deserve more than this. Students and faculty deserve to be well-informed, treated with dignity and, above all, to feel safe and protected within their academic institutions.

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Ximena Rondon

Ximena Rondon

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