Campus safety: A breeze flowing through the cracks
By Ashley Kreiner
Guns, metal detectors, and bomb threats are just the surface of what Klay Peterson discussed with students on Oct. 5.
Leaning back against a table, he smiled and answered all inquiries from the students at Upstate. Though he seemed confident about the systems already in place, I could feel an ominous breeze flowing through gaps where student safety could be compromised by the common mind.
Upstate has a technique called layering. Different systems are in place, which overlap and layer to form a thick coat of protection. However, there are parts not so dense. For example, no shatterproof glass windows are on campus. Some doors do have metal woven into the glass so a gunman breaking and reaching through would have trouble getting past the metal barricade, but anyone can shoot through.
The students can be seen inside through the windows and shot, so why not make them bulletproof?
Another layer of protection is the computerized locking system. If the police know a shooter is on campus in a certain building, they can lock the doors to keep out the intruder with the touch of a button. Though this looks like a good safety measure, its range is short. It is unclear whether all doors in a building are included or just the outside. Not all campus buildings have these locks, creating weak points in the system. No windows have this system either, raising problems for anyone on the first floor.
So, is this a layer of protection, or just a few drops of what the students need?
There are 170 cameras around campus working constantly. However, no one is appointed to monitor these cameras. In cases of crime, they are used to go back and review the scene of a crime after it was committed. If someone vigilantly sat behind the cameras, the crime could be seen as it was committed, in turn increasing chances of capturing the criminal.
Students should be able to walk at night and feel engulfed in safety, but the campus is poorly lit as students walk from their night classes. This can be a cause for concern with the recent time change. A nocturnal crime may be too dark for cameras to capture a clear image, so the attacker could get away. It is important the campus be properly lit to increase the security of students and to make capturing criminals more probable.
Students who are going somewhere with strangers or to an unfamiliar area can go online to sign up for SpartAlert, a system that sends alerts to students. For those who feel at risk, there is an app called “Rave Guardian”.
If students are going somewhere new and want to be cautious, Rave Guardian allows users to provide contact information for people to notify, along with police. The user sends a message to the team, informing where, when, and with whom they are going with. Once safely arrived, the user lets the team know.
“The incident management team is compromised of nearly every sector across the University,” Chief Peterson said.
If the team does not get a message confirming the student arrived safely, police will be sent to the scene.
The flaw here is advertising: how are students to know of this system when it has not been properly advertised? The chief expressed his frustration at such poor advertisement, noting most students do not know of this feature. Still, it is helpful for students with night classes and more. To sign up, go on the personal section of my.sc.edu.
Though the police have a layering system in place to keep the students of USC Upstate safe, there are too many gaps for it to feel complete. Bulletproof glass is needed, better campus lighting at night is necessary, the locking system should be extended to include all buildings and first floor windows, and SpartAlert should be better advertised so students can be aware of the safety tools at their disposal.
For now, it’s petty crimes. Would the campus be so secure if a shooter breezed through our campus? Tuesday’s event makes that an even more important question.