By Nick Sabatini
It is undeniable that we live in a country with security issues. Recently, we have seen mass shootings in Las Vegas and Florida that have killed dozens of people. College campuses are by no means immune to this type of incident. In the wake of all this, it is necessary to question Lewis & Clark’s preparedness for a security threat. Unfortunately, LC is not adequately prepared.
First of all, there have not been any recent lockdown drills since I started LC this year. Until recently, I did not know what to do during a lockdown on campus. There are pamphlets describing lockdown procedure, but in an emergency situation, the likelihood of students reading and comprehending a pamphlet are pretty low. I just assumed that if a lockdown were to occur during class, the professor would have known what to do. If I was by myself inside a building, what would I do? What would I have done if I was by myself and a lockdown occurred and I could not lock the door? Do I go to another building or do I stay?
The answer to this remained unclear to me until I found an old email sent by The Bark after the Las Vegas shooting in October, which included a link to LC’s website with instructions for the lockdown procedure. The instructions on the website accompany a video giving instructions on how to lock a crash bar door. I am concerned that not enough students actually took the time to read the lockdown procedure. Students are simply not as engaged reading information from a website compared to an actual drill. Additionally, it is also concerning that the existing plan for a lockdown situation were only sent out to students after an incident happened, as opposed to being regularly sent out.
Like many colleges and universities, LC uses the blue light system, a network of emergency phones scattered throughout campus. Personally, I feel safer outside when I know I am near an emergency phone. However, there are two crucial locations on campus that lack an emergency phone: in front of Watzek Library and in front of Templeton. These areas receive heavy amounts of traffic, so I am surprised the phones are absent. If a student was walking by the library when the library was closed and an emergency or active shooter situation were to occur, the nearest phone would be near the Gregg Pavilion; this is too far for any student to travel in an emergency situation.
The most significant security flaw on campus is the lack of universal key card access across residence halls. This was enacted by Campus Safety as a security precaution after a threat in 2015. In theory, if a shooting were to occur on campus, the shooter cannot get inside the residence halls even with a keycard. However, this does nothing to improve safety on campus. In fact, I think it makes the LC campus even less safe. If an incident were to occur outside a residence hall a student does not live in, the student would be trapped outside. If the incident occurred at night, there may be no one around to open the door. In a lockdown situation, it is critical that all students can enter the nearest building. It is a basic safety measure and not having universal access to buildings is jeopardizing the safety of students.
Campus Safety should consider having more frequent lockdown drills or at least make the lockdown procedure more clear to students. They should also consider installing emergency phones in areas that receive heavy traffic. Most importantly, however, I strongly urge Campus Safety to bring back universal key card access to all dorms. Doing this is easy, simple and inexpensive, thereby greatly improving safety on campus. Even if LC is not prepared at this point for an unnatural disaster like a shooting, the college can be by taking these measures.