Unsafe is not a term one would typically use to describe a college campus. Students wander freely in open areas and hallways, not giving a second thought to whether someone is toting a gun.
But within the last year, the issue of campus safety has brought many changes to Yuba College. The campus police department has grown in recent years; it used to be smaller, and the officers did not carry guns. However, some of the changes began with a proposal to allow campus police to carry guns, which was approved by the Board of Trustees last year.
It makes you wonder if they expect criminals and psychos to be running rampant with weapons concealed in their backpacks. Instead of rubber bullets, which would be less deadly, our campus police have real bullets in those guns. Many students commented on the issue last year, saying it was a good thing, and it made them feel safer.
Others felt it was an unnecessary action. Yuba is not really a hot spot for crime. In fact, the crime rate in general has declined, not only on campus but in the local area.
According to the US Department of Education, only 1.6 percent of California undergraduates have been threatened by a gun on a college campus. It is illegal to carry a firearm on campus, even in your automobile.
Last spring fewer than 30 percent of all California community colleges authorized campus police officers to carry handguns. However, Yuba College joined the minority, even though criminal offenses were few and sporadic.
And aren’t there other pressing issues of campus safety, which guns will not solve? Remember the bomb threat a few years ago? There was literally no way off campus. Traffic was horrible, congested up and down the roadway.
It took two hours for everyone to clear the property, and it raised several safety concerns. Had there been a real bomb, there could have been dire consequences. After the incident, there was a meeting to discuss evacuation plans and making more exits. You would think that type of plan would have already been in place.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not the new exits will ever show up. Let’s hope we never have to evacuate the campus again.
Now safety is not just about guns and bombs, or plans of action. It is also about the security systems themselves. Recently, emergency call boxes were installed on campus. There are six of them in all, displaying bright yellow signs.
You push the button in case of an emergency, and campus police come to you, ready for action. As far as we know, they have not been used for any real emergencies. Maybe they are handy in case you find you’ve locked your keys in your car, and it is 9:30 at night. Seriously, though, if there were a life and death emergency, those boxes could save your life. That is, if you didn’t have to sprint 50 yards to get to one. Or wait for help.
So how safe do we feel on campus? Pretty darn safe. Nothing has changed much for the better or worse since the police started carrying guns. Just watch out for midterms. They’ll kill you.