BY KENDALL BALCHAN
Photo courtesy of AP Images. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School parents and students protest.
On Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla. a 19-year-old man went to his former high school and shot and killed 17 people including both teachers and students. He injured 14 others. This recent shooting has many students at COD concerned for their safety and even more concerned that they wouldn’t know what to do in the event of a shooting on campus.
COD’s Public Safety Department has an active shooter policy that is posted around campus and online. The day after the Florida shooting, when asked about what the active shooter policies at COD are and why the policies are the way they are, Public Safety declined to comment and directed The Chaparral to a photocopied version of their active shooter policy.
Even though the policy is posted around campus and available online when a class of 35 COD students were asked if they knew what the policy was, none of them knew.
When the photocopied policy was passed around many expressed that it was the first time they had seen it. Others remembered similar drills or instructions from active shooter drills in high school. The fact remains that if there ever was an active shooter on campus, not one student in the class knew what the official school policy is.
Valeria Chavez, a first-year COD student, said, “How am I supposed to feel safe? I want to make sure that they’re [Public Safety] doing everything they’re supposed to do to keep me safe. It’s something so recent people are so scared. Students want to be aware and want that emotional connection of a real person telling them they’re safe and secure and looking at a piece of paper is just showing the rules.”
Carlos Velazquez wished Public Safety would, “send a memo or email that outlines the protocols that we as students and faculty need to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be. Obviously hoping that nothing like this ever happens on campus.”
When the same 35 students were asked how often they think about mass shootings, 68% said they only think about mass shootings when one happens. Students are not thinking about mass shootings enough to, of their own volition, research the campus policy on active shooters. When students are going to school they only seem to be focused on whether they’re turning their assignments in on time, which classroom they’re heading to, or how long they have until lunch. They are not concerned about where to hide in case an active shooter is on campus. But that is the reality of life across this country.
Connie Zamora, another student at COD notes, “I think there is a higher percentage of students only thinking about mass shootings when they happen because it’s so newsworthy. It’s sad that we only think about it when a huge shooting happens when we have lots of little shootings happening and no one thinks about it because it’s so normal and accepted.”
Whenever a mass shooting happens, the conversation inevitably turns to, “What next?”. Will there be any policy change? Should there be any policy change? Could anything have stopped this tragedy? The group of 35 students seemed mostly in agreement that there is more than one problem that causes mass shootings, therefore there is more than one solution. Students debated a range of solutions from more mental health services, to gun control, to arming teachers and heightening security in schools.