In light of events in recent years, it is safe to say that the rash of gun violence in high schools has graduated to higher education. Safety has become an important factor for parents as they send their children to college – maybe even more so than academic programs or the success of collegiate athletics.
But unlike the violence that takes place within high school environments, one would think it would be easier to patrol a population comprised of consenting adults. Funding for police actions within a high school may meet the disapproval of parents who see no threat. After witnessing the tragedies at Virginia Tech and other institutions, however, private and public universities should spare no expense in allocating funds for security.
As anyone who has been a member of the USF community for more than six months understands, sometimes the interests of public safety can take a back seat to financial prioritization.
The Florida Board of Governors has been discussing the realities and needs of state universities since Gov. Charlie Crist created the Gubernatorial Task Force for Campus Safety shortly after the shooting at Virginia Tech.
The dire economic situation in Florida and the trickle down effect to education funding should not become a roadblock for effectively addressing campus security needs.
Statements made by BOG member Tico Perez share the same sentiment as countless people who attend, work or teach at universities in Florida.
“We’ll deal with the budgetary crisis when we can but priorities have to be made. We have 380,000 students and 3,000 buildings to protect,” Perez said.
Tomorrow, a committee will review $18 million worth of BOG security proposals for the university system, and it would behoove decision makers to quickly and steadfastly support them.
According to Florida A&M’s school paper, the Famuan, a student has been expelled for possessing a weapon on campus and was one of five students arrested after an incident of gunfire on campus. As the reports of countless advisers and committees have proved, security needs must be immediately addressed to help prevent other scenarios becoming more dangerous.
On the center of the BOG Web site is the image of a black ribbon with the mascot of Northern Illinois University commemorating the murders that occurred in February, and it is our belief that the BOG thoroughly understands the importance of campus safety.
Ultimately, security measures can only deter criminals from committing an atrocity. However, the BOG is in a position to ensure that a resounding message is made that the state of Florida is willing to take any steps necessary to provide its citizens with the safest learning environments possible.