On Wednesday, Feb. 14, Nikolas Cruz carried a duffel bag, backpack and a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. ABC reports that there already have been about 30 mass shootings this year alone, and we are only in February. Now students must once again question their confidence in their level of safety, especially students on open campuses, like Montclair State University.
The tragedy in Florida follows a horrific cycle of school massacres. From Columbine High School to Sandy Hook Elementary School, school shootings have occurred in elementary schools, high schools and even college campuses. The Virginia Tech Institute massacre in 2007 claimed the lives of 33 people (including the shooter) on the university’s campus.
Like Virginia Tech, Montclair State is also public, where almost anyone can come on campus. Vendors, solicitors, strangers using the computers in the library and others are featured on the Red Hawk Rap Sheet. While the university does have policies that are available on the Montclair State website, it seems as if they are not being implemented. There are no gates, no one checking school IDs and not enough security personnel around campus. Taking these deficiencies into account, Montclair State could be just as vulnerable as Douglas High School.
“Sometimes I sit in the university lecture halls and imagine where I’d hide if someone walked in,” said freshman psychology major Izzy Colombo.
Many students like Colombo are concerned for their safety on this campus. However, since Montclair State is such a beautiful, open environment, there are few students who want to lose their sense of freedom to security checks and gates. There is also the issue of the cost of hiring enough security personnel to cover 486 acres of campus and placing enough cameras in every building and entrance. This begs the question: what can Montclair State University do to ensure the security of their students?
The answer is unclear. Frankly, the issue of gun violence on both high school and college campuses comes down to federal laws and regulations on guns. The federal government needs to pass legislation which inhibits the purchase of guns or establishes checks for guns. It is not enough for Montclair State officials to just hire more guards. It is not even enough for Gov. Phil Murphy to push for legislation that further tightens gun laws, because people can simply bring in guns from other states. This is a U.S issue, and the U.S. needs to solve it.
Unfortunately, this fact does not offer students any peace of mind. The best course of action may be to forgo extra guards, but we must ensure that the current security detail is evenly distributed throughout the campus. Montclair State officials should also make it a priority to check that every single camera is functional. In this way, though the campus may not be perfectly safe — and truthfully no campus can ever be perfectly safe — Montclair State University will continue to provide their students some semblance of proper safety.