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Recent tragedies bring campus safety into spotlight

By Melissa Gibson | Pulse staff reporter 

Campus SafetyIn light of recent school shootings around the nation, some students have questions on how prepared Palo Alto College is in case of a high-risk crime situation.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, the Internet buzzed with reports of a shooting at a Texas college campus.

Saul Garnica, a student at Palo Alto College, said he found out right after one of his classes. At the time, reports only said it was a Texas college shooting, so he got a little on edge.

Sevannah Castro, a sophomore in the Social Work degree program, said, “I think Palo Alto is as safe as any campus can be. There’s only so much protection and precaution a campus can follow. A student’s safety honestly falls in another student’s hands. I do not feel 100 percent safe on campus because life is unpredictable, but at the same time, I do not feel threatened nor have I ever been.”

Campus police, as well as school administrators, are doing a few things to ensure that Palo Alto College is a safe and secure campus for students.

One way they notify students of any safety concern is via text message. This is why it is important for students to keep their contact information up to date. In case of an emergency or even school cancellations from weather issues, students will be notified with text alerts.

Students can update their contact information by logging into their ACES account. Once logged in, go to the Student tab and click on the Web Services option. After clicking on Web Services, this will bring up a new page with new options.

Click on the Personal Information button and go to the Update Addresses and Phone link. With the updated phone information, the school will now be able to send out text alerts to notify students of any concerns on campus.

Currently, contractors are on campus, installing badge systems into the doorways. Once installation is complete, the system will allow the campus to lockdown the doorways in the event of an emergency.

A bill is being proposed that will allow licensed students to carry a concealed weapon on campuses. If passed, that would mean that students and faculty with a concealed weapons license would be able to carry their concealed weapon with them at all times.

The Harrold Independent School District in North Texas implemented a Guardian Plan in 2008 that allows select teachers and staff to carry concealed weapons.

According to the Huffington Post, those participating in the program must hold a concealed-carry license and be approved by the school board to carry on campus.

When asked how faculty is helping prepare students for incidents on campus, Lynn Parker, Criminal Justice Department instructor, said, “At the beginning of every semester, I always go over what to do in certain situations on campus. We hope that they never happen, but in case it does, the students will be better prepared.”

For some students, seeing a possible crime in the works can be alarming and confusing at the same time.

Parker said, “Move to a place of safety while calling Campus Police. Do it quickly, even if they’re not sure exactly what’s going on.”

The Alamo Colleges website also has helpful tips on what to do in case of emergencies.