Questions are being asked about what has changed in the six months since Oct. 1 to make students, faculty and staff feel more secure and safe.
In an editorial printed in The News Review April 14, Roseburg psychiatrist Scott Mendelson asked, “Six months later, what has changed to lessen the likelihood of another senseless mass-murder by an angry, gun-toting young man?” His answer — “nothing. Nor do I see that anything will be done soon to improve our chances of remaining safe. We continue to sink into the morass while sighing, crossing our fingers and spouting platitudes.”
Robert Hill, a first year UCC student, worries: “Students take a mandatory financial literacy seminar, but we don’t know what to do when something like this happens. That scares me.”
The president’s office has been receiving similar concerns. College staff recently received an email from interim president Walter Nolte: “In recent weeks, I have received a number of questions, comments and requests regarding the desire for more information on campus security.”
Main areas of concern include door lock needs, security officer staffing, emergency procedure protocol and emergency response training, many of which are being addressed.
In January, staff and administration began working on developing a state legislative request for funding in order to upgrade on-campus security; however, Gov. Brown did not sign this bill until late March. In addition to $4.25 million for the Snyder Hall rebuild, the bill provided the college $1.8 million for other security updates. These include $474,000 in parking lot lighting, $39,480 for speakerphones with broadcast capabilities, $465,600 for network fiber system upgrades as well as other security measures and the lock systems.
Due to this delay, several planned security upgrades were put on hold while the decision was made to seek outside funding for classroom door locks rather than wait for the legislature.
The Juan Young Trust during fall term approached Susan Taylor, who was UCC’s grant writer then, to see how they could help the college with security. Taylor, currently UCC’s foundation director, said, “They are a longtime supporter of UCC scholarships.” The Juan Young Trust provided $16,000 to pay for 119 dual system locks.
A dual system lock, according to Facilities Director Jess Miller, “has a push-button on the inside and becomes unlocked each time someone twists the handle from the inside or turns it with a key from the outside. The dual feature consists of the push-button working as normal, but if you twist the lock also, the door will remain locked even if someone opens it from the inside to exit.” Installation of these locks was completed by April 4, according to an email sent to staff by Walter Nolte, UCC interim president.
Electronic locks have also been ordered. “The electronic locks, which are more expensive and intended for exteriors, were included in the legislative request,” said Taylor in an email interview. The approved request included $135,608 for 46 of these locks which can be controlled by the security office and will replace some existing electronic locks. These will be key scan entry.
The installation of the electronic locks and their software will not take place until late April or early May, Miller said in an email interview. Nolte’s email to staff indicated completion deadline is mid-May.
An additional $22,847 in funding for upgrades to existing locks was also requested and granted, according to Taylor. Almost all of these upgrades have been made except for some bolt locks.
Continued efforts have been made to increase security officer presence on campus. Before Oct. 1, UCC had two full-time and two part-time unarmed security guards. “UCC now has two armed deputies. One is full time and one is part time and three full-time security staff and three part-time security staff,” Harvey Day, UCC security guard, said.
“UCC now has two security cars given by Oregon State Police and one new security cart purchased by the college,” Day added.
Taylor has just finished a six month federal request process for U.S. Department of Education Project School Emergency Response to Violence funds. The Project S.E.R.V. funds, if approved, will pay for a student support adviser, mental health therapist and a recovery specialist meant for students who were affected by Oct. 1, said Taylor. This specialist is to help students further their education, Taylor said. Project S.E.R.V. will also reimburse the college for the modular installation and rental as well as the cost of the continuing campus presence of Douglas County law enforcement.
A Threat Assessment Team has begun to meet. This team includes staff from Human Resources, Student Services and Brian Sanders, the undersheriff of Douglas County, as well as campus mental health personnel, according to Nolte’s email.
Interim President Nolte has indicated that Miller would “implement the e-learning component of the ALiCE training on April 19; working with instruction to identify dates for the demonstration component.” This Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate training has been implemented in over 2,800 K-12 schools including South Umpqua School District and 600 institutions of higher education, according to the ALiCE website.
Vice President of Instruction Roxanne Kelly recently emailed students requesting feedback in a satisfaction priorities survey. Included in the survey are four questions involving students’ options on campus security with a box at the end for additional comments or concerns. Students are encouraged to complete the survey as soon as possible.