The schools security has been upgraded over the last semester but most students haven’t noticed the changes. Some students only noticed the new procedure of entering the different buildings. It has had both, positive and negative effects.
In an unscientific survey, one person every 15 minutes walks through an unguarded emergency exit located south of the Bonnell Building’s main entrance (the black door several feet away from it). This could be dangerous for students, considering that one of the procedures for guests it swiping their student ID’s or signing in with a state ID in each building. It’s not only the side entrances that are a problem, though. In one hour, 21 people walked through the entrance in the Winnet Building without following the proper procedures. In fact, some people walking through the entrance stared at the security officer on duty, as if they wanted to know if the guard noticed they slipped through. Luckily, no incidents occurred during these unscientific surveys.
It should be reassuring that the school has an Annual Security Report on file. A copy can be seen on display in the entrance to the main security office and online on the college’s website. It reviews the college’s mission statement, the amount of officers hired by Allied Barton and how many are trained and hired by CCP. It has a log of all the hate crimes, larceny, vandalism and many other crimes that could be reported to the security office on campus. Fortunate for us, all of those crimes, including every other one on the report reads zero. The entire report is 41 pages.
While many students haven’t noticed any changes to their safety, and find some of these things annoying, whispers on campus can be heard that some are interested in having armed guards on campus. Randy Merced, the head of security for the college doesn’t think this is a good idea. Firstly, the ninth district of Philadelphia police are located at 401 N. 21st St., a few blocks from the main campus. This is why on October 6th when the main campus shutdown the police responded within minutes of the alleged “gun sighting.” Secondly, arming the college’s guards isn’t efficient. Most of them are trained in first aid, emergency procedures and concierge work.
Some students also had interest in having metal detectors at the entrances. Merced doesn’t find this conducive, either. It’s not only costly, meaning it would raise our tuition, but it would also slow down the process of getting to class. “I don’t want the students to lose focus on the prize, which is graduating,” Merced says.
This is important for everyone attending classes at the college and the professors teaching them. Students shouldn’t get distracted. If the school did have metal detectors on campus at every entrance, how many would decide not to attend because of how inconvenient that process is? Could you imagine having to take off your belt every day you stepped on campus or having to throw away your nail file every time you forgot it was in your purse?
The safety of each student isn’t always dependent upon who gets in the campus with what. It’s also about knowing what to do during an emergency. CCP’s guards are aware of everything in the 41 pages of the Annual Security Report. This is also why the school had a fire drill in the middle of the fall semester on the main campus. They wanted to make sure that the students, staff and faculty knew what to do in that kind of situation.
The emergency procedures have also been condensed in an easy to read guide located in every classroom throughout the school. It’s sequenced in red, blue, black, green, yellow and many other colors. You can also see them at every entrance near the “Alert Us” boxes. These are yellow monitors at every entrance on the campus and it’s accessible to every person who decides to look at them. The school purchased 40 more Alert Us systems to have distributed throughout all of CCP’s locations.
The school isn’t Fort Knox and it shouldn’t be. Students should feel comfortable and feel welcomed because this is a place where we’re all trying to find opportunities and learn. This semester the community college of Philadelphia has done more than simply ask you to swipe your IDs to get into the building to make you feel safe. They also installed more street lights on campus for students to feel comfortable at night and installed a flashing light on N. 17th Street to slow down traffic passing through that area. They hired two bike security guards to have faster response time to emergencies, which Merced says, “You should see how much they love it, the way they zip all around campus.”
Their number one security priority is to protect our learning environment. It’s only fair that we take the time to notice some of these changes and appreciate the amount of effort it takes to keep our learning environment just that; a learning environment, so we can continue to comfortably gain knowledge and stay focused on the prize.