On October 12,2017 the students of the Community College of RI received an alert that a student had reported being assaulted in the parking lot of the warwick campus. The information was spread quickly and efficiently which CCRI does a very good job at. Friday when I arrived at my class the conversation circled to the uncomfortable topic of rape and assault on campus. This is a topic I've thought a lot about in my past year at CCRI and after this incident I'm still left feeling like we lack in security.
My first two months at CCRI I didn’t have a car so my grandfather drove me to school. I only had one class for an hour so it was no big deal for him to wait for me. Like all other CCRI new students I came to the first day of school prepped with my CCRI student ID. I soon found out that my ID was great for getting discounts at stores but really nothing at school. You do not need your ID to enter the school, to buy food in the cafeteria, to enter the library, or to access the computers. Really anything that I do during a normal school day does not require my ID. Because of this my grandfather who is not a student nor has he ever been a CCRI student was able to walk in the doors go to the cafeteria buy himself breakfast, go to the library for a newspaper, and find himself a place to sit in one of the many seating areas spread throughout the campus and enjoy breakfast. This was fantastic for him because he didn’t have to spend an hour in the car, but from the first time he did this it raised immediate concerns for me. If my grandfather could walk in and free roam throughout the entire school what was stopping someone with a gun?
My high school had more security than my college. To just enter the school you had to ring a bell, state your name into a speaker, get buzzed in that first door, go to a second door and be buzzed into that door. Then sign in on a guest sign in sheet. This made sure that every person who entered the school who was not student or staff was accounted for. The secretary in the main office had cameras on each door and could see exactly who someone was before they entered the first door. This was annoying for students who came to school late and also had to go through this process but it was safe.
Yes, I go to a community college we do not have the same funding as a big private school, we don’t have dorms. But does that mean my safety is not as important? I would love to have to use my student ID to have to enter the building. This provides at least a small amount of checks and balances as to who is in the building. This girl was allegedly assaulted in the middle of the day, in the parking lot, in broad day light. Not in a dorm at 3am after a drunken night.
In elementary school, middle school and high school; in every school in the state the schools are required to perform lock down drills a few times a year. I understand the complexity of trying to do such a drill at a community college where students are coming and going all day because we do not live on campus. With that being said, I have no clue what I am supposed to do if there was an active shooter on campus. I believe at least there should be a plan posted in each and every classroom on the wall near the door, that professors can review with their class during syllabus week. This would alleviate some confusion and panic if an attack did take place.
After this email went out I found myself feeling more and more unsettled walking to class through the parking lot. I found myself being comforted by the fact I have a small hand knife in my car. These are not things I should have to worry about while going to school. Yes, I go to a community college, but why is my safety being ignored? Why is my safety being played with? Why don't we know who is on campus?
The rebuttal I can see being made is the fact we very rarely have a problem with assault or rape, we have never had a shooter, or a knife being pulled, but why are we waiting for this to happen? Why are we inviting harmful people into the school with open doors? We have no idea who is walking into the building, that includes dangerous people. Yet, could a student with a valid ID decide to do a terrible thing and get into the building no problem with an ID yes. But why are we making this so easy?
Yes, I go to a community college, but my safety matters too.