A recent article published by The New York Times reports as of late March, there have been 130 mass shootings in the US so far this year. Most recently, a gunman entered a Nashville grade school on March 27th and shot six people dead.
In response to this most recent school shooting, students and faculty of St. Ambrose University consider their safety while on campus. Duk Kim, a professor in the political science program at SAU shared, “I’m not sure if I am trained well enough to protect our students and myself. I’m not sure if our facility is designed to prevent or protect our campus community members.”
He is not alone. Others on campus say they agree that they feel like more could be done to better protect themselves and their peers. Jaliyah Sims, a freshman studying psychology, shared, “I think they should have more cameras around campus because there’s not a lot of them.”
In general, none of the students and faculty interviewed expressed any imminent fears about their well-being on campus. Josh Prowse, a freshman studying computer science stated, “I feel safe on campus. Mainly, because I know most of the buildings you have to have a key card to get in.” SAU says it is committed to improving campus security. According to an email sent by the security team, on February 21st, a new 360-degree camera was installed on the lower level of Cosgrove Hall. The email further added,
“The new technology allows us to record activity in the public area 24 hours a day.” They also said that there are plans in place to install additional cameras throughout the rest of the residence halls.
Over the years, the SAU security department has also implemented various safety policies including restricting access to most campus buildings by only allowing students and faculty to enter via BeeCards.
Hede Reyes, a freshman with an undecided major, also agreed that she feels safe amongst her fellow peers, even though she doesn’t live on campus. “I feel safe walking to and from classes because I’m with people that I trust, and it’s a small campus so everybody knows everybody.”
However, active shooters are unpredictable. The general public can still access many buildings on campus freely such as the Library or Ambrose Hall during the day.
Amelia Torre, a junior studying criminal justice, feels that most schools don’t update their safety policies unfortunately until a crisis. “I think everybody thinks they’re doing enough until something happens. I think maybe they (SAU) could be doing more.” She agreed with Sims that more cameras throughout campus are still needed.
SAU security director, Bob Christopher was asked to be interviewed for his take on the issue. He said he would like to respond, but due to the upcoming Papal Conference, he was unable to reply before the initial story deadline.
While many in this country are pushing for teachers to be armed and to install metal detectors in school doorways, Kim feels that the problem is more deeply rooted in the overall mental stability of individuals. He explained, “I believe that when students are applying for St. Ambrose, we need to have a better screening process in terms of if students are having some sort of health issue, that you’d want to make sure that they’re getting the proper care and attention.”
SAU currently offers mental health counseling services for all students and faculty with any thoughts of depression, anxiety, or any other mental-health-related difficulties. The Student Counseling Center is available on the second floor of the Rogalski Center.
SAU security does have many policies set into place for keeping its students and faculty safe. There are also several Blue Cap phones, scattered around campus. Just a press of a button will get you connected to an officer. They have also encouraged students to install the LiveSafe app on their phones as a way for
students to report any suspicious activity. It is also a way to keep in touch with the SAU community if an emergency occurs on campus. In that event, students and faculty would also receive a text message notification on their phones.
These are just a few of the many ways SAU’s security department keeps students and faculty safe, and you can check it all out here on their webpage.
Students can always reach campus security by phone at 563-333-6104 or by stopping by their office, located on the second floor of the Rogalski Center, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Nicolas Zepeda is a staff writer for The Buzz.