To lockdown or not to lockdown — that was our question

To lockdown or not to lockdown — that was our question

Mariah Wilson

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As I left my room on Thursday, Feb. 21 to go downstairs for some breakfast, I saw helicopters flying close to campus, and could hear them saying things to the people below. I could not discern what they were saying, but it did not sound good. I was nervous and confused as to why Campus Safety had not sent anything if students were in danger. Still, I assumed I was fine and went on my merry way. Later on, as I was at the College Bookstore, I received a message from my friend saying that the school was supposed to be on lockdown and to stay indoors. 

Now, I am a fact checker, so I decided to call Campus Safety myself and check the validity of her statement, as we are told to do on the Campus Safety site. As I called, I could hear yelling in the Campus Safety office: “Put the school on lockdown! Send out a text!”  This was moments after I told the bookstore workers we should be on lockdown, because I had seen the helicopters. 

Second-year Ben Arrendondo was in the Music Building  [Arnold Hall] when the helicopters were flying above the campus. “My professor, Dr. LeVelle, took initiative to make sure that everyone in the Music Building was inside a classroom,”  Arrendondo said. “She enacted a preemptive lockdown 20 minutes before Campus Safety was able to officially enforce a campus-wide lockdown.” The fact that the Music Building is just about as close as Campus Safety was to the helicopters is important. A professor decided to take action without the knowledge that Campus Safety had, which, in my opinion, shows negligence to students’ safety. Had Campus Safety acted quickly in putting out a text saying we were on lockdown, it would have better insured student and faculty safety, and we could have waited for details later. 

Second-year Naya Sawah said, “I knew about the police chase from a group chat with my friends and a student walking into the building; she was told by a [Campus Safety] officer to get inside a building.” The Office of Equity and Inclusion, The Quaker Campus, Community Advisors, and general student chats were just a few of the groups who were  in the know before the text was sent out by Campus Safety. This is a problem because that limits the amount of safety given to all students. On top of that being an issue for on-campus students, it had the potential to be an even bigger issue for off-campus students. 

One person that I interviewed, who wished not to be named, said they would have walked to school had they not been notified by other students about a possibly armed suspect. Had they decided to walk to school, they would have been walking straight through Franklin, where the suspect was. Luckily, student group chats and word of mouth may have prevented off-campus students from getting hurt, which should have been the job of Campus Safety’s alert system. Students should not be warning other students when there is an office whose job is to do so. 

Campus Safety should have imperative knowledge like that, and it should be given to the students as quickly as possible. Referring back to March of 2018, when an unidentified man was caught burning a LGBTQIA+ pride flag on campus, students were not notified until two hours after the burning had happened. That is way too long considering  the large LGBTQIA+ community on campus, who could have been in potential danger had they run into this man.

The school was notified 30 minutes after the first helicopter circled campus.   KERI YAKOYAMA/  QUAKER CAMPUS

The school was notified 30 minutes after the first helicopter circled campus. KERI YAKOYAMA/QUAKER CAMPUS

After facing backlash of how they handled the burning of the flag, open meetings were held with Campus Safety to discuss what had happened and what changes needed to be made. I attended the meeting, and Campus Safety swore to implement a more efficient system. Although 30 minutes is better than two hours, the system is still not efficient. Rather than having meetings with Campus Safety, we need to implement changes in the policy that will protect students. 

I understand that Campus Safety is making progress in their reaction time, and I am grateful for the amount of work they put in, but I sincerely think that it is time for policy reformation. I am a third-year student of the College, which means I have seen a lot of things happen over the past three years, but what happened on Thursday was not acceptable, and change is needed. I have reached out to Campus Safety, but they have no comments on the event yet.