5Cs Take Measures To Ensure Student Safety In Case Of Gun Violence

Henrie Watkins works with Berto Gonzalez, PO ’20 and Tiffany Zhou PO ’21 in a practice activity during a gun safety class earlier in the year. (Jojo Sanders • The Student Life)

The recent school shootings in Parkland, Florida, and elsewhere throughout the nation have once again thrust gun violence on school campuses into the public spotlight, leading students around the nation to question protections on their own campus.

Students and staff at the 5Cs are prohibited from bringing any firearms on campus or within 1,000 feet of campus, according to the California 1995 Gun Free School Zone Act. This is also included in the student and staff handbooks of each of the 5Cs.

“In general, there are no significant differences, but each of the 7C policies can be found on the individual college websites,” Director of Campus Safety Stan Skipworth wrote in an email to TSL.

Other prohibited weapons are also listed in the colleges’ respective policies. Those prohibitions also apply to items stored in private cars or storage containers located on college property.

Although there have not been any recent gun-related incidents at the 5Cs, “we make it a high priority to be prepared for such an event,” Skipworth wrote. “Our officers at Campus Safety receive regular training in this area [and] we regularly meet to assess and review how other agencies deal with such events.”

When Campus Safety receives a report about anyone who may be in possession of a firearm or weapon of any type, it immediately notifies the Claremont Police Department, Skipworth wrote. Although the CPD takes the lead in locating the suspect, Campus Safety assists its investigation through monitoring security cameras and sending notifications to the campus community.

“If a member of the campus community sees what they believe is a gun, call Campus Safety or the Claremont Police Department immediately, using 9-1-1,” Skipworth wrote. “If someone witnesses an actual attack involving a firearm, get to a safe location and call 9-1-1 immediately.”

Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, and Pitzer College have taken additional measures to ensure student safety. Harvey Mudd College did not provide details about its programs before press time.

At Pomona, Robert Robinson, assistant vice president of facilities and campus services, led a campus-wide active assailant training in February. Students were told when to run, hide, or fight in various situations and participated in role-playing exercises.

Such trainings are held on a routine basis, according to associate dean Christopher Waugh. Residence Life works with the Facilities and Campus Services team to run emergency drills every year, and Residence Hall Staff training also involves dealing with active assailants.

Waugh also advised students to download the LiveSafe app, a “key layer of safety support for all emergencies, including gun violence,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Scripps has “conducted a physical security inspection of all residence halls and rooms, revised our Active Assailant immediate-action protocols, and have identified a number of other continuing actions, such as increasing physical security measures for all classrooms,”  emergency preparedness and safety manager Charles Chase wrote in a statement to TSL.

Scripps is also designating a number of “safe rooms” to be equipped for longer lockdowns lasting several hours supporting 20 to 25 people.

CMC has a system to remotely lock down interior building doors to classrooms, offices, and student rooms as well as security cameras throughout campus.

“During winter break, we tested the lock down system with a mock-real time drill for effectiveness with facilities staff,” spokesperson Joann Young wrote in an email to TSL. This system is tested regularly and facilities staff tests doors daily.

CMC is planning a “campus-wide sheltering exercise” and is training key personnel from administration and staff in accordance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Incident Management System, Young said.

Over spring break, Pitzer conducted testing and troubleshooting of new electronic locks recently installed on classroom doors. Pitzer Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Marchant wrote in an email to TSL that he is working with the Emergency Management Committee to plan a lockdown drill for later in the semester involving students, faculty, and staff.

Although gun violence is a real concern, “it is much more likely that Pitzer and other schools in our region will need to respond to fires or earthquakes,” Marchant wrote. “In general, our focus on emergency planning … is to prepare, mitigate, respond, and recover from the effects of man-made or natural emergencies and disasters.”

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