The normal function of this column is to try and put out some basic campus living and safety tips, as well as the Case Western Reserve University Police Department’s take on things in a generally lighthearted manner. At the moment however I am not in a lighthearted mood. The past few weeks have seen shootings on campuses in Oregon, Texas and Colorado, as well as multiple threats of violence at several local high schools.
Sadly schools have always been a target for violence, including the Texas Tower, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown and beyond. This isn’t likely to change anytime soon; campuses and schools are always filled with people, and attacks on them will always attract publicity however we might wish otherwise. CWRU suffered its own tragedy in 2003.
No one seems to be sure what the answer to all this is. Some people feel that allowing the concealed carrying of firearms on all campuses is a solution, but Oregon was one state where this is already legal. Like at many universities, some of the most frequent things that CWRU PD deals with are mental health and alcohol or underage drinking issues; is introducing guns to the mix going to make things any better? Like many universities, CWRU has evolved with the changing times—creating an armed police department in 2006, establishing the RAVE emergency notification system and offering ALICE (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evaluate) active shooter response training, to name a few.
However investing new technologies and structures isn’t going to eliminate all vulnerabilities. I have always maintained that part of the answer to many campus safety issues is community involvement; from calling in suspicious people and activities (the 2003 shooter arrived on campus wearing camouflage and a military helmet), to knowing who lives in your residence hall or trying to get help for the possibly intoxicated person who fell in the bushes just now. You don’t have to love everyone who attends or works here; just recognize that we are all part of a larger community during our time here at CWRU and we all bear some responsibility for the well-being of that community.
So as we return rested and recharged from fall break let’s look out for each other—now more than ever.
On the Beat is a weekly safety column written by Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko of CWRU PD. He welcome questions, suggestions and gripes/groans/moans/complaints about campus life at email@example.com.