Students React to Fulton Shooting and School Shootings Nationwide
BY JIM MALVEN
A shooting occurred on Monday, Oct. 12 near the intersection of Ninth Street and Westminster Avenue, just north of downtown Fulton and roughly five blocks from the northeast side of campus. According to ABC 17 News, two bullets were fired toward a car around 12:45 p.m., damaging the vehicle but not resulting in any deaths or injuries. The driver reportedly left the scene but was unaware the vehicle had been struck. Investigators are still gathering information and have not yet released a suspect description.
While the college has safety precautions in place in the event of a shooting, last Monday’s shooting, along with the 23 school shootings that have taken place in the United States this year, have caused many students to feel less safe on campus.
Out of 100 students The Columns polled in a survey about campus security, 62 indicated that the Fulton shooting has had at least some effect on their sense of safety. Of those 62, the majority (37) reported that it made them feel “moderately less” (28) or “much less safe” (9), while fewer than half (25) reported feeling “slightly less safe.”
Matt Pearl, ’19, said the incident made him feel a little less safe.
“I heard the cross-country team did not want to run that direction … and I realized I shouldn’t go that way either, so I actually drove my car around the other way,” Pearl said.
On a different survey, students were asked to rank from one to five how safe they feel both on campus and in the surrounding area, with five indicating the safest. On average, students’ perceived safety was 3.8 on campus and 2.9 off campus in the surrounding area. Most people reported feeling “very safe” or “moderately safe” on campus but only “moderately safe” or “slightly safe” in the surrounding area.
Although most students reported feeling safe on campus, some students said there are still areas that need improvement.
“In regards to security themselves, I feel like they do a very good job,” Gordon Allison, ’17, said. “I feel like they’re very experienced and very well prepared, but the fact of the matter is that there are so few of them that they can’t be everywhere at all times.”
Seventy-two percent of students surveyed also indicated that they think there should be more security officers on campus.
Allison said the campus is not well protected against a shooting.
“With regard to doors and locks and everything like that, there’s a large area that can be improved upon,” Allison said. “You have the general over-latch that goes over the door, but … that could be damaged enough that someone could enter, thereby eliminating any sort of protection in any room.”
When it comes to ideas to prevent school shootings, many debate whether or not schools should be armed.
At Westminster, only eight percent of survey respondents liked the idea of having armed guards stationed across campus.
“Throwing guns into a situation won’t help it; in fact, it could hinder it,” Allison said.
However, 39 percent of those surveyed said they believe allowing security officers, who are currently unarmed, to carry firearms could better protect the campus.
Just as students have varying opinions on how to make schools safer, they have different ideas about why school shootings occur.
“The big issues are gun violence and mental health,” Allison said, adding, “People need to have background checks; people need to have waiting periods; people need to have mental assessments. … With gun violence, we need to start instituting the gun policies we have on the books.”
Pearl disagrees with these statements.
“[The prevalence of shootings] has a lot to do with the security of the school and the establishment itself and whether it has actual security guards or a security system with cameras in place,” Pearl said. “I think policy can impact it, but [it is] probably more [that] campus security at that location might need to be improved.”
Although there are different ideas on how to prevent shootings, students agree that action needs to be taken to avoid any more happening across the country.