It’s kind of upsetting that I have to write this article, seeing that it’s in response to Virginia State University (VSU) amping up their police presence on-campus in the wake of two shootings. This next part especially shouldn’t have to be said: the shootings happened within a week of each other. VSU has now implemented normal everyday clothing for police officers, as well as additional lighting and security cameras, according to WTVR-TV.
I want to preface this by saying, Keene State College gives me absolutely no reason to think that someone getting shot on campus is inevitable. I personally feel pretty safe, but at the same time, I also feel like it’s important to know what to do during an emergency and what Campus Safety can do. KSC’s Assistant Director of Campus Safety Leonard Crossman said that Campus Safety’s protocol is a multi-step process, with the first step being to prevent incidents from happening in the first place by loving thy neighbor and watching people’s behavior.
Should there be an emergency, the most important thing is to de-escalate the situation before it can get any worse.
“If something were to happen here, there’s a couple different things that need to happen. You need a response to stop someone to do what they’re doing. We work with [the Keene Police Department] to be that response,” said Crossman.
Campus Safety also has sirens that will go off and is able to send mass text messages and e-mails to alert people that there’s a threat on-campus.
“We also have the ability to secure every building, just right here in our office. We have a computer system that can lock any building. If someone is in the [Putnam] Science Center, we can isolate the person,” Crossman said.
If Campus Safety officers are out, they’ll also take care of evacuating people and making sure that everyone ends up in a safe place. While we hopefully will never have to see this plan come to life, it’s some well-planned-out thinking that will hopefully prevent the KSC campus from becoming another statistic.
I’ve seen Campus Safety patrolling around Appian Way before, so it’s not like the idea of seeing someone in uniform on campus is foreign to me, but the thought of having more of a police presence is interesting. Maybe it’s because I, being over dramatic, picture police officers in full-out riot gear like we’re straight out of some dystopian, 1984-esque novel.
It’s probably because seeing any kind of police presence at school, before I came to KSC, has never been something I had to deal with, and thinking about it suddenly becoming amplified is jarring. It’s like when I found out that some schools have metal detectors installed–that was an eye-opener.
I still don’t think I should have to write this article because this shouldn’t be an issue. It obviously shouldn’t take a genius to tell you that gun violence is a problem, and it’s gotten to the point where two unrelated shootings happened at the same college within seven days of each other. To me, that’s absolutely insane.
But I digress. Amping up security doesn’t fix the bigger issue of gun control in the immediate aftermath or in the long-run, but it can at least deter any more incidents from happening and act as a kind of security blanket for students who are understandably tense about the situation.
I still hold true to my word that I feel safe on campus, but I’m also not speaking to you as a student living on a campus where getting shot at now sounds like a very real possibility. Having more of a security presence around KSC, VSU or any college isn’t the most ideal solution because the problem shouldn’t exist in the first place, but since it does it’s the best Campus Safety can do to protect us.
Izzy Manzo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grace Pecci can be contacted at email@example.com