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School security has become a huge talking point in the current climate of our country and this is also the case at Rochester College. RC has a reputation for being a safe campus and the facts seem to back this up, but just how safe are we? What is the school doing to keep us that way?
In many cases, students are not informed about incidents that happen on campus. Last year, there was a theft of laptops and most of the student body never even heard about it. At the start of the school year, a Nintendo Switch was stolen right out of a dorm room. Another incident happened right around Christmas break when a security guard was fired after several incidents, including sleeping on the job and attempting to start an inappropriate relationship with a student on campus. While these incidents are few and far between, especially when you compare it to the much larger Oakland University located just down the road, it does show a need for change. This need is felt by the staff, as well as the students.
Jacob Lawless, who is director of operations and oversees security on campus, has already implemented changes since joining the college’s staff in July of 2017. He implemented a mobile presence from security in an attempt to make the security team more noticeable for students.
“My expectation is the security guards on campus, including myself, are mobile throughout the day and respond quickly to the security phone, as well as to issues we have on campus,” Lawless said. “If someone is out and about and able to be seen, it should deter something from happening and from someone making a conscious decision.”
Lawless also has other plans that he would like to implement in the future, one of those being card swipers on the outsides of several academic buildings.
“That way we have reporting capabilities of who’s accessing,” Lawless said, “And the other piece would be that student and faculty alike would be responsible for their own card access, so there would need to be a standard set that ‘I’m not letting someone else in behind me.’”
This is something that is already equipped on doors for the three main dorm buildings on campus, even if at times the swipers don’t work and the doors are left unlocked. The biggest issue that Lawless runs into while trying to put these changes together is money: everything costs money and since RC is such a small school, it would need to come from somewhere else.
Dean of students Adam Baron also talked about this, saying, “It can get pretty pricey to do just one double door in the building.”
Baron talked about how students could make changes by using their voices. An example he used was if we feel like money going to sidewalk repairs would be better spent on something like safety, we have the power to express that and maybe make a change.
“Students don’t realize the power of their voice and they should be involved,” Baron said, “Students have a voice they often don’t use.”
As safety concerns grow at schools around the country and incidents happen like the shooting at Central Michigan University, this is a voice that RC students should not be afraid to use.
The school is also not ignoring these incidents. Following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL, RC held their first lockdown drill of the school year. Even if several students and teachers reported that it didn’t go as smoothly as they would have liked, at least it shows the college is taking steps to get better.
“The safety and security of the students is always going to be top priority for us,” said RC president Brian Stogner. “What that means is that we are never satisfied; we will always work to improve.”
Even as I was writing this article, my RA approached me with a piece of paper to put on my door that spells out the steps to take in case of an emergency, something that had previously never existed. It was a nice addition to my sparsely decorated dorm room.
The community that surrounds us is a safe one and there is no denying that, as recently Rochester Hills was named one of the top 100 safest cities by Neighborhood scout, coming in at 48.
“If you look at our statistics, consistently we’re one of the safest campuses in the country,” Stogner said.
But, as we have seen with the Parkland shooting, this can rarely matter. Parkland was named FL’s safest city in 2017.
“Security is about prevention,” Lawless said. “You’re never gonna stop something, but if you prevent something that’s what we want.”
Let’s just all hope this little bubble we live in never pops.