The Rocket

What if it happens here?

The Rocket Staff

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With school shootings back in the news again, recently discussions of campus safety have picked back up here at Slippery Rock. The mass shooting in Parkland, Fl. happened in the middle of the week when five presidential candidates were visiting SRU two weeks ago. Almost immediately, questions posed to the candidates switched from being about educational plans to the topic of campus safety. This is an important topic and whoever is chosen as SRU’s next president will surely have to consider safety, but The Rocket thinks it is not enough to think about safety only after a tragedy. It should not take children dying in their place of learning to stir us to action.

If we, both as an institution and a society, only consider safety following tragedies, then by definition, we will always be too late. A shooting like at Parkland last month or a stabbing like at Ohio State University last year could happen anywhere at anytime. If something were to happen at Slippery Rock, thinking about safety after the fact is far too late.

As a staff, we feel it is important that the university and students both work proactively on plans and procedures for a crisis. The university has already announced security upgrades that will take place over Spring Break and running more in depth drills in order to properly prepare students and staff. But the university can only do so much, students need to be proactive as well. Signing up for campus alerts, reporting strange behavior and know what services campus police offer are ways that we, as students, can prepare ourselves for the unthinkable. If  we can’t trust that anything will be done on the state or national level to prevent these shootings we have to take preparation into our own hands. Since the AR-15 is still legal we need to think about investing in steel doors. Since there are states where violent felons can purchase guns we have to think about investing in bulletproof walls. Since there are still gaping holes in our background check system we have to participate in active shooter drills. To this end its important that the university remain up to-date on the latest security measures and listen to student concerns.

This editorial is not intended to be political. We are not writing this hoping to spark a lively debate on gun control of mental illness. We are writing this because as schools stop becoming a place of learning and transform into a place of fear and violence, our hope is that SRU will be an outlier, that SRU will lead the way. We are part of a university that is routinely rated as one of the safest in the nation; this should make us proud– not complacent. Utilize the amazing resources SRU has to offer while keeping in mind that yes; it could happen here. But we have the choice to make this community and campus greater and safer with every decision we make and with every resource we utilize. As a student, demand that safety programming is a priority not just after another dozen people are killed. Demand that administrators answer tough questions about safety on campus, not just during presidential searches. Finally, demand more of your community and the world in which you grow and learn– whatever that means to you.

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What if it happens here?