Security forums reveal missing connections

The Board of Trustees of the San Mateo County Community College District held Campus Safety Open Forums on Sept. 11-13 to gather information from administration, faculty, and students on how they feel about public safety on their campuses.

“The study would include information on all organization and operational aspects of campus public safety,” District Vice Chancellor Kathy Blackwood said in a press release. “As well as examples of best or smart practices.”

A Public Safety Services Committee was created with campus and district staff, and student representatives to “help guide the district’s research process and coordinate opportunities for discussion and participation,” Blackwood said.

The final draft of the report will be available to the public in November.

However, until then, it is very important that you voice your opinion if you have any thoughts on how you feel about public safety on campus.

A poll taken during the forum revealed that Skyline faculty rated campus safety at an 8.5 out of 10 and that an increase in funding and more training in emergency response would bump that number up to a 10.

Some dissent was heard when a teacher expressed her concern about evening class students “walking back to their car by themselves in a dimly lit parking lot” and another attendee said, “I was hired to teach. I love my students but am I expected to take a bullet for them?” There was a common agreement amongst Skyline administration and faculty that public safety officers should undergo extensive training on when to engage in certain situations.

Some staff members stated they see the public safety officers more similarly to “ambassadors” and wondered whether or not officers take this position as a stepping stone in preparation for future positions in law enforcement.

Other faculty members felt indifferent about the situation and explained that they had worked at other institutions where officers were armed with guns. The San Francisco State University or Sonoma State University campuses were named, suggesting this policy is nothing new when it comes to campus safety.

“It promotes a sense of inequality,” said a student in attendance. “Just imagine what could happen in an extreme situation between an armed officer and an unarmed student.”

Some faculty members raised similar questions, mostly regarding their roles in student and campus safety. One of the biggest issues regarding public safety is the fact that Skyline is so isolated from San Bruno itself, which drastically increases the San Bruno Police Department’s emergency response time.

Other challenges included people feeling uneducated about who to call when when they see their colleagues in escalating altercations.

More open questions were raised by participating students who felt left in the dark when it came to public safety and the department itself, which led to the idea that students should get to know the the public safety officers and become more familiar with what their jobs entail.

It was mentioned how public safety officers are rarely seen on campus, and participating members of the forum suggested more of a presence from the department. A suggestion was also made to improve the diversity of officers, especially in terms of gender, considering all current public safety officers at Skyline are male.

In conclusion, it is evident that there is a disconnect between the Public Safety Department and people who attend and work at Skyline.

In order to keep Skyline safe, a dramatic shift in education needs to be implemented across the campus. If we do not know how to keep ourselves safe, no one else can do it for us.