Campus Safety

Community college campuses should be a safe place, and these policies, controversial or not, aim to achieve that goal. Schools have banned sex offenders from campus, allowed security to carry guns and installed surveillance cameras in an effort to keep students safe. Here we’ll cover the latest crime and safety policies in place on campuses across the country.
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In light of increasing concerns over campus safety, some community colleges are banning firearms this fall. The move has renewed debate over whether guns should be allowed on campus, whether carried by students, faculty or both. While there are arguments to be made in favor of either position, the trend for this year appears to be focused on keeping guns off campus in hopes of keeping students just a little safer during the school year.
 
California Community Colleges Say No to Guns
 
The Los Angeles Times reports that all nine campuses in the Los Angeles Community College District in California will become gun-free zones when students head back to class this fall. The Board of Trustees for the schools recently voted unanimously to ban firearms in nearly all circumstances for this school year.
 
“It is our responsibility to provide a safe environment for our students, allowing them to feel secure and able to totally focus on their academic goals,” Scott Svonkin, vice president of the board, told the L.A. Times. “They must never be fearful about setting foot on one of our campuses,” Svonkin added.
 
Previous Shootings Spur Decision
 
The reasoning behind the ban was a string of violent school shootings, with the most recent occurring at Santa Monica College in June, 2013. During that incident, another Los Angeles Times article reported that five victims died, along with the shooter. The 10-minute rampage began when the shooter killed his father and older brother and set their house on fire.
 
The . . . read more

A string of tragedies at schools across the country in recent years has many community colleges taking a serious look at their security policies. At the forefront is the question of whether guards and officers on community college campuses should be allowed to carry firearms. While some college administrators make good argument for the allowance of weapons, others have equally compelling arguments against the practice. These community colleges offer a small sample of the schools that are grappling with the issue of guns on their campuses.
 
Holyoke Community College Heeding Massachusetts Report
 
Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts is taking an in-depth look at the possibility of arming campus guards after a report on campus violence prevention was released for Massachusetts schools. The report, which was published by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, recommends that “sworn campus police officers should be armed and trained in the use of personal or specialized firearms.” The report was compiled in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007 and another incident at Northern Illinois University in 2008.
 
According to mLive, the Holyoke Community College Campus Safety Committee is now considering arming the school’s nine full-time police officers. Currently, the employees, who are all graduates of either the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Academy or the Massachusetts State Police Training Academy, are not allowed to carry guns on campus. However, after a lockdown situation on the college campus in February, the question of arming guards to handle active shooter situations . . . read more

The Virginia Tech tragedy in 2007 was a glaring indication that community colleges are not immune from the deadly violence that has impacted school campuses across the country. That single incident defined the risks students undertake when they head to classes every day. While schools of all kinds are taking another look at how to keep students safer, unique challenges face community colleges in this area. At the same time, a recent string of community college attacks has highlighted the need for a higher level of security, despite potential obstacles facing these schools.
 
Attacks at Wyoming School Precede String of Incidents
 
The first in a recent string of community college attacks took place at a Wyoming school last November. Reuters reports that the son of a professor at Casper College shot his father in the head with a crossbow and arrow in front of a classroom full of students. Students were able to safely exit the classroom as the father and son engaged in a struggle that left both of them dead. Later, authorities found a third victim, another college professor who had been living with the first victim, slain in her home.
 
“I can’t even imagine what the students in that room had gone through,” Chris Walsh, chief of police in Casper, told Reuters.
 
Texas Community College Sees Two Incidents in Three Months
 
Lone Star Community College in Texas has seen not one, but two incidents that left staff and students with injuries. The first was a shooting . . . read more

Students may select the location for their post-secondary education from a variety of factors, including tuition costs, degree programs available and quality of education received. This is true for prospective community college students, as well as those looking at a possible four-year degree. One factor that may not be at the top of a searching student’s list is campus safety. However, staying safe while you are pursuing your degree is an important characteristic that contributes to the overall college experience. Fortunately, StateUniversity.com has you covered, with annual rankings that let prospective students know which college campuses are considered the safest in the country.

Choosing the Safest School
 
When StateUniversity.com begins its annual process of ranking U.S. colleges for safety, the first step is to take data directly from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Since private colleges do not have to report their crime figures to the FBI, some of these schools may not appear on the list. However, all schools that participate in federal student aid programs are required to report crime numbers every year, keeping most of the schools around the country under consideration for the rankings. For the 2011 rankings, about 450 of the largest schools in the United States were evaluated.
 
Crime reports between January 1 and December 31, 2011 were considered when compiling the most recent rankings. Both crime frequency and severity are considered as participating schools are given a score between zero and 100. The higher the score, the safer the school. Crimes . . . read more

Arizona lawmakers are continuing their fight to allow students and faculty to carry guns on college campuses across the state. One state legislator has plans to introduce a new gun law in the opening session on January 9, ensuring the bill would not get lost in the rest of the business of the state as the year progresses. Despite the veto of a similar bill by Governor Jan Brewer last year, those in support of allowing guns on campuses feel confident that this year’s bill will get the governor’s blessings.

 
Why Guns on Campus?
 
The issue of allowing guns on university and community college campuses has been a hot button topic since the shooting at Virginia Tech University in 2007 left 33 dead, including students, faculty members and the shooter. According to AZ Central, Arizona lawmakers began introducing gun bills that following year, stating trained gun owners would provide another layer of protection for colleges throughout the state.  The recent Arizona shootings in 2011 by former Pima Community College student Jared Loughner, who wounded and killed dozens of people at a shopping mall, including US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, have further fueled the fire of these gun movements.

Currently, Arizona law allows individual schools to make the decision of whether to allow guns on their campuses, although none of the colleges in the state allow weapons on campus at this time.
 
“A gun free zone really becomes self-defense free zones,” Arizona State Senator Ron Gould told My FOX Phoenix. . . . read more
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