Safe and sound in Santa Monica
Santa Monica College's reputation is under the microscope after the numerous threats and tragedies that transpired on campus this year. Within a span of a few months, talk of pepper spray evolved into a semiautomatic rifle attack, leaving six people dead. The words bomb, suicide, guns and death still ring in students' ears. So, the question then arises, is the campus safe?
First of all, no place is ever completely safe and free from threat. A cellphone can easily be stolen if left unaccompanied, a fight can break out because some guy hit on another guy's girlfriend, or your car can be backed into by another car because the driver was tying his shoelaces instead of focusing on the road. SMC has responded quickly whenever an issue has occurred. The Santa Monica College Police Department was first on the scene when a student committed suicide.
Thousands of students were evacuated when a bomb threat occurred. School was on lockdown when a student claimed he was in possession of a firearm on campus. Police shot down a gunman who went on a shooting rampage in the Santa Monica area ending on our campus.
The trauma of these events has not been not undermined, and support groups have invited the community to gather together. A gathering took place on SMC's Bundy Campus for the community to mourn the victims killed and injured.
Counseling services have been readily available to those affected by these tragedies. A 24-hour hotline was set up for faculty and students.
Yiwen Yang, a prospective SMC student, said he feels secure visiting campus knowing that the campus police will, as he put it, "improve their security to protect their students."
"SMC is a great college," Yang said. "I don't think these events will repel many students."
SMC is often touted as the number one community college in transfers to both UCLA and USC. Yang said he believes that SMC will "do everything they can to maintain the reputation they uphold."
"I believe they have done a great job in responding to the incidents and will take extra precautionary measures to keep students safe in the future," he said.
Maricel Burrios, a new international student at SMC, said that these types of events are not uncommon in her country. Major crimes are committed on a daily basis in Paraguay, and students have to constantly look out for their safety.
"America is so much safer than many other countries around the world," Burrios said. "These are very unfortunate events that took place at SMC, but that does not mean the area is not safe."
In countries like Syria, South Africa and Somalia, homicide occurs more frequently. In 2012, 100 people were killed in Syria on a daily basis, according to an Huffington Post article. Today, over a thousand bodies lie sprawled in the streets after being poisoned by gas.
It is easy to fall into the mindset that Santa Monica is unsafe, and incidents like the shooting will happen again. It is possible. Most things are possible. A hot air balloon could crash into the cafeteria tomorrow, but that doesn't mean it will.