A.S. Approves $20,000 for LiveSafe App

Santa Monica College Police Chief Johnnie Adams asked the Associated Students board of directors for $20,000 of the $28,000 price for another year's subscription to the security app, LiveSafe, at their Monday meeting on May 7. The school's administration has already provided the remaining $8,000.

After nearly an hour of questioning and discussion, the A.S. board unanimously approved the proposal. LiveSafe is a free app that would allow SMC students to register in order to participate in safety programs such as the ability to report suspicious activities they see on campus, call for help in a crisis without making a noise, and share their location in real time so their friends can keep an eye on them as they commute to school.

Despite support for the app from all A.S. board members, they requested that the administration, specifically Chief Adams, attempt to find a way to cover more of the cost in the future. Chief Adams responded that going through A.S. bodies is a funding strategy recommended by LiveSafe.

Adams said that when he asked how schools usually pay for the app, "What they [LiveSafe representatives] said is [that] they usually go through the student governments - this is a product that's for the students, so that's where they usually get that funding.

Though the board did ultimately approve the proposal, some board members, such as Vice President Jorge Sandoval and Secretary Ryan Ang, voiced their concern that A.S. was being asked to pay for this at all. Ang said, "Doesn't it say a lot about the character of the administrators if we have to go to them to convince them that 30 thousand students need to be protected? I'm sorry but that does not make sense at all."

Chief Adams took exception to the idea that the administration was not committed to student safety. "If you look at security and safety as layers, this is just one layer, the district has done quite a bit in safety," he said. "Millions of dollars that were spent on the electronic locks - over 800 cameras - they've spent a lot of money on those kind of things." 

Adams also pointed out that, since there are only 18 sworn and armed police officers to serve nearly 28 thousand students, the app would act as a "force multiplier," allowing the officers that are on campus to more effectively protect a large student population.

Despite this year's board members strong unwillingness to fully fund this proposal, last year's A.S. board members approved the full $28,000 for the same subscription. The price was set at $28,000 because roughly 28,000 students were attending SMC at that time. 

Vice President Sandoval proposed a solution to the board's reservations with the school's frequent use of A.S. funds, suggesting that the $1 per student be rolled into their online fees. "I just want to make it so [this service] continues forever, not just this semester - if it's online, and people have to pay for it, it's going to get funded and we'll always have this service." 

A.S. Faculty Advisor, Dr. Nancy Grass, explained that the only way to achieve this kind of an additional fee would be to propose a ballot measure, which would be voted on by all students. Chief Adams planned to work with Sandoval to input this ballot measure by the end of the semester.