Staff writer Ivan Flores offers another viewpoint in his article. See “Why having police officers on campus is not a bad idea.”
BY COLIN MACDOUGALL
Over the last couple of months, the board of trustees and administration have discussed implementing Student Resource Officers (SRO) on the premises of Washtenaw Community College. I think the consequences of these rushed discussions will bring more harm than good to the campus.
The call for the SROs came after the tragedy that occurred at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Although safety is a concern of the administration and the board, these tragedies come few and far between. The likeliness that such a situation would occur at WCC is very low.
The students haven’t really been asked about it, and through my own research most students didn’t even know that WCC is looking to instate SROs. A majority of students interviewed didn’t want armed police officers on campus.
During a student leader focus group, there weren’t enough students to fill the room. Pete Leshkevich, director of student development and activities, explained in that meeting that WCC budgeted $153,000 per SRO per year. I think this is a pretty high price for a single police officer on campus. The student focus group itself seemed rushed, and the students who did find out about the focus group heard last minute. I also think groups need more minorities represented before they move along with hiring the SROs.
Another topic discussed at the student focus group was counseling. Most students in the meeting agreed that counselors should be a priority for the school to spend its money on.
Preventative methods of dealing with mental health issues are what should be implemented. More access to psychiatric help is what students and the community really need to combat these tragedies.
The student focus group turned its attention to the role of smartphone cameras and how they are used daily. Police officers are popping up in video clips on social media websites in an unflattering way. I know in my social problems class, students would bring in and show us clips of police officers who caused riots last fall in Chicago. Even more recently in nearby Royal Oak, a video went viral over the internet when unruly officers mistreated a man, as a crowd of people filmed and gawked at the police officers on the scene. I think the likelihood of an officer’s bad behavior being filmed on WCC’s campus is much more likely than an active shooter.
At the board of trustees meeting, psychology instructor Anne Garcia made a testimony to the board of trustees meeting on April 26. She brought up “the weapons effect,” a study originally produced in the 1960s that notes the presence of guns increases aggression levels in bystanders, whether or not they are aware of it.
When I polled students, the majority already felt safe here on campus. I think that if the administration and the board of trustees want to follow through with hiring SROs for the campus, they need to ask for more student input before they complete the negotiation of the contract.