At the Associated Student Government (ASG) meeting on Feb. 23, a Palomar College student approached the ASG asking them to send a mass email to the student body to notify them of a national classroom walkout.
The walkout is a result of the recent school shooting in Florida. Valentine’s Day was a difficult day for students at Marjory Stonewall Douglas High as they heard gunshots and panicked. By the time the shooting was over and the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, had been arrested, 17 were dead and many more tears spilled as parents embraced the survivors at a nearby Marriott.
Following the shooting, students of Stonewall took to Twitter to barrage President Donald Trump about what he could be doing to stop further shootings in the future. Assault rifle regulations have been pushed in Florida as of late, and the funding of the NRA behind several political candidates.
“I think it’s important for students to participate because we are the future, we are the next generation that’s gonna be taking up this country,” Brennen Lisenbe, who is the student that approached the ASG said. “It’s important that we get our students involved because we are going to be the ones soon making the decisions.”
The walkout will take place for 17 minutes, one for each life lost in the school shooting, on the one month anniversary of the Parkland shooting, at 10 a.m. on March 14.
When the issue was brought to the ASG, the board appeared willing to send an email, however, they would express that there might be possible ramifications should students disturb other classmates, or step out during lecture.
That said, it is up to individual faculty members whether they will permit their students to participate in the walkout during their class times, without consequences.
Travis Ritt, a history professor at Palomar College said that he will be participating in the event in his own way within his classroom. “I’m going to stop teaching at 10 o’clock for the 17 minutes. I’ve already informed my class of my reasonings of why,” Ritt said.
Ritt will not be exiting his classroom due to a contractual obligation that he remain inside during lecture time. However, although he has not encouraged his students to participate in the walkout, he does not intend to take any action against those who do.
There are those who intend to spend the 17 minutes in a similar way to Professor Ritt, sitting in silence in honor of the lives lost. However, many will also be taking the 17 minutes as an opportunity to lobby for gun reform, and against another element to the issues brought forward from the shooting, President Trump’s calling for teachers to be armed with guns.
The proposal goes against the call of Stonewall students vying for more restrictions in the process to purchasing a firearm.
“Personally I think that is a bad idea,” Lisenbe said. “I don’t think it is a smart idea for the proposal to be thrown out there that teachers, the ones that are supposed to be teaching us, to be also protecting us as a police officer should.”
Ritt echoed this sentiment expressing that with the exception of trained law enforcement, there is no place armed individuals on a college campus. “If guns were allowed on this campus, I’d quit my job, find something else to do,” Ritt said.
Both Lisenbe and Ritt voiced their opinion regarding the access to guns in the U.S. as well. Neither one believed that the rights to bear firearms superseded the right to life.
The walkout is not the only thing to come as a result from the school shooting. Police Chief Chris Moore also attended the ASG meeting to outline what the protocol would be in the event of a shooting at Palomar.
In an email, Chief Moore said that the department will be hiring three new officers, one for San Marcos campus, and one more for each the North and South education centers. In total the San Marcos campus will have seven armed officers employed.
In addition, the department intends on introducing new trainings. “We are working with
several instructors … to incorporate training on a more formalized level with faculty and staff in the Fall,” Moore said.
In the case of an active shooter on campus, Chief Moore recommends employing the Run-Hide-Defend method. “Run-Hide-Defend are concepts to enhance your survival,” Moore said.
“Run means get away from the danger if possible. This could be running off campus or to a
secure building, which can be locked. Hide relates to concealing yourself, shutting off lights
in a classroom and pushing desks against the door and locking the door. Defend requires a
mental mindset of survival and using objects or brute force to neutralize a suspect if he were
to enter a room that is not protected.”
For more information on how to handle an active shooter event, you can visit the Palomar Police website at https://www2.palomar.edu/pages/police/palomar-college-police-department/