Stepping off the path to Sandy Hook

Editorial Board

Widener University, Liberty Magnet Technology High School, Purdue University, South Carolina State University, University of Oklahoma.

These schools may or may not sound familiar, but these are just few of many schools that have experienced the grief and fear associated with campus shootings.

According to the Associated Press from Feb. 3, there have been at least 11 school shootings on campuses across the nation this year alone, ranging from K-12 schools to college universities.

According to the American news reporting website The Daily Beast from Dec. 12, 2013, there have been at least 25 school shootings, about one every two weeks, since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

While we have a tendency to assume these things can’t happen to us, our college is no special exception and it’s fair to ask how prepared we are for a similar tragedy on our campus.

Lieutenant Chad Wehrmeister of DVC campus police emphasizes that police officers have trained and prepared for the possibility of there ever being a shooting on campus. They are ready to deal with critical incidents and have lockdowns planned if anything were to happen at school.

“The police department is on the college campus to facilitate a safe learning environment,” Wehrmeister said.

He also finds that recognizing people who are at risk can sometimes be a more important factor than the  situation itself.

While many big factors in preventative efforts seem out of our control, issues like gun control and mental illness that are currently a part of the national discussion on school shootings, there are still things we can control that might prevent these types of situations from happening.

In fact, some of those things are already underway.

Newin Orante, vice president of student services details an initiative in creating a team on campus that will be proactive and preventative in emergency situations and would be geared towards helping both students and faculty on campus.

He credits Dean of Counseling and Enrollment services Beth Hauscarriague and Dean of Student Support Services Emily Stone for spearheading this initiative.

Orante explains that there are three components to this idea: helping students who are in need of mental health services, preventing dangerous situations from occurring on campus, and a larger part in dealing with other agencies in the event of catastrophes.

If identifying a process and forming a team is done in a timely matter, Orante believes that marketing to and informing of the public could begin as early as this summer.

“When students and our college community as a whole are informed about what options are available to them, then they can have the confidence that whether something occurs off campus (or not)…there’s resources for them. I think it’s a step that we want to go to and that’s what Beth and Emily are working on right now,” he said.

We commend and take pride in our campus security, which is even in talks about an emergency response team. But we feel that’s it’s especially worthwhile that appreciate the extra preventative step that DVC is taking to not only better the college, but to provide extra safety and security to the thousands of students and numerous faculty members on campus.

Whether or not this proposed preventative measure manifests into something bigger may not be up to us — but with the alarming amount of school shootings happening all over the nation, it’s definitely an initiative that we believe needs to be taken seriously.

We want to see this kind of action succeed and taken seriously.

Because it’s always better to be safe than sorry.