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Arming campus guards is essential

Published: October 5, 2007
Section: Opinions


When I picked up this past weeks issue of The Hoot, I was surprised by the overwhelmingly one-sided criticism against increased Brandeis security. Walking through campus, you are bound to see tables and petitions and loud Brandeis canvassers, and all of them will tell you the administration is making a mistake: the Brandeis police should not be armed. Maybe its because Im from Virginia, or maybe its because I lost a childhood friend in the shooting at Virginia Tech last year, but I see something horribly strange about this reaction.

After this past April, the nation experienced an outcry for increased security on college campuses, for faster communications systems, higher quality emergency training, and better prevention services. Is all this because administrations, students, and faculty alike see these measures as reasonable ways in which to improve the higher academic environment? Yes. Is all this also because were afraid? Of course it is.

Ill be the first to admit that I was terrified sitting in my school on April 16, 2007. I was a senior at a public high school in Loudoun County Virginia, where approximately each class of 300 to 500 graduates would send at least 15 to 20 on to Tech. In high school where censorship runs rampant, the teachers naturally tried to shield us from the news. Their terror, however, was written all over their faces, and it took only a few moments of persuasion before my AP Government teacher agreed to turn on CNN. His daughter was at Tech at the time.

As the numbers jumped, all pretense for maintaining discretion fell away as teachers and students began to fear openly for their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and friends lives. Statistically, given the number of alumni from our school at Tech, and the number of teachers who had children at Tech, we had little chance for a clean escape. I had only ever experienced that haunting phenomena once before in my life, on September 11th, and I pray never to experience it again. That feeling you get when you know that loved ones of people around you are dying, right at that exact moment;

that feeling is enough to terrify anyone.

In those moments you cant control much of what happens. You cant pull out guns where there are none, and you cant necessarily stop the suffering even with them. You cant go back and lock open buildings that have been broken into. You cant expel or treat someone who suffers from depression. Thats not how tragedy works.

Instinct and chance are all that is left to protect us while a situation is occurring. So, instead, what we need to focus on is preventative strategy. There are several steps that our administration has already taken to ensure students safety in the event that such an emergency occurs, including, but by no means limited to, the public safety texting and email notification system, the emergency blue lights, campus police, and available on-campus therapy. In my view, the arming of campus security seems like the next logical step in maintaining safety at Brandeis.

Im aware that guns cannot always help. The VA Tech police were armed, but as a result of communication failures could not utilize these resources properly. Incidents like the one at the University of Florida, and, further in the past, Kent State, do happen. In those circumstances, however, the trust resides with university officials, and not with a psychologically troubled murderer. I trust Brandeis. I trust the faculty and staff not to limit free speech among students. I was not here a week when I learned of the Ford Hall takeover of 1969. In a community that fosters student activism, such as Brandeis, it is unlikely that such episodes of police brutality would occur. Furthermore, on the chance that said events did take place, I have faith in the outspoken nature of this campus to contend with the situation. Weve handled protests before;

what we havent handled is a massacre.