A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Mass shootings on campus: Is SRJC prepared?

Hana Seals
From top left: SRJC’s new security infrastructure includes emergency buttons in some buildings that initiate a classroom or building lockdown when pushed; SRJC District Police Chief Robert Brownlee; campus security added.fixed and updated all call boxes on the Santa Rosa campus.

Mass shootings have changed the way schools across the nation treat campus safety, and Santa Rosa Junior College is no exception. 

Two gun-related incidents in 2019 raised concerns about safety on the Santa Rosa campus. A gun-on-campus alert near Analy Hall took place Jan. 17, then a shooting at Ridgeway High School, whose campus borders Santa Rosa High and is only blocks from SRJC, forced a three-hour campus lockdown Oct. 22.

With a pandemic and multiple construction projects later, has SRJC actually made improvements to its safety infrastructure or preparedness since the 2019 incidents? According to SRJC District Police Chief Robert Brownlee, the answer is yes; the college has significantly improved its safety infrastructure. However, faculty members say training in the new security systems is lagging.

Promises Made

Solen Sanli Vasquez, a sociology instructor, was teaching on campus during the first incident when she received an alert that an armed subject was near Analy Hall. She and her teaching assistant instructed their students to shelter in place. 

Philosophy, humanities and religion instructor Beth Shmidt was not on campus at the time of the alert but still raised concerns about not having a key to lock her office door. She sent her concerns to Santa Rosa Junior College President Dr. Frank Chong in an email stating, “I want dates. On what date will my office doorknob and lock be replaced?” 

Chong responded saying he would work with SRJC District Police to solve the door-locking issue.

Since then, Brownlee said facilities installed a new software system called CCURE that allows campus dispatchers to automatically lockdown the electronically-controlled doors on campus with the push of a button. 

Brownlee explained this upgrade was necessary because older buildings didn’t have the ability to be electronically locked down, so the next course of action was to update the perimeter doors so police could electronically control them. 

“We looked at those issues that we had in 2019, particularly with Emeritus Hall because all those classroom doors are outside-facing but that was one of the first buildings where we established our security standard [that] all exterior doors are electronically controlled to enable district police to lockdown,” Brownlee said. 

It’s important to note that CCURE has not been implemented at Tauzer Gymnasium, because it is set to undergo renovations, Brownlee said. 

Schmidt said her door-locking issues were resolved. “I feel like we have made some pretty significant security improvements with the access to exterior doors.”

Other campus safety improvements include the introduction of emergency buttons in Garcia, Kunde and Bussman halls. When pressed, the red buttons initiate a classroom or building lockdown and alert campus police dispatchers. 

In all other buildings on campus, faculty and staff need to call district police at (707) 527-1000 during an emergency to have them initiate a building lock down. 

“Haphazard” Safety Training

Some instructors who teach in the three buildings with emergency lockdown buttons have been trained on how to use the buttons while others have not. And those who did receive the training elected to do so at professional development day by their own choosing, not through official or mandated training. 

Communication Studies Instructor Lex Pulos is aware of the emergency buttons’ existence in Garcia but was not instructed on how to use it. When asked how the button worked he said, “Hit the button to lock down and alert, and then you have to twist and pull to reset I think.” His button knowledge comes from a “haphazard [Professional Development Alliance] selection” of workshops.

Another communication studies instructor said she learned about the buttons in a campus safety meeting at a professional development day workshop but didn’t know where they were located in Garcia Hall and hadn’t had any formal training on how they work.

In Kunde Hall, an administrative assistant said the buttons send a signal to the district police when pressed. She added that when the buttons were installed, they had signs above them stating they were for lockdowns. 

Also over in Kunde, administration of justice instructor Joseph Anderson said he didn’t remember receiving training for the emergency buttons but is aware there is a button inside each classroom that will lock the door in case of an active shooter. 

Campus security also added, fixed and updated all emergency call boxes located across the Santa Rosa campus. Brownlee said all emergency buttons and emergency call boxes are functioning. 

Lack of active shooter drills

Another concern instructors raised was whether they are prepared to protect their students in case an active shooter appeared on campus. Instructors on the Santa Rosa campus haven’t had a lockdown drill since before the pandemic. 

Brownlee said there is no state mandate for such drills, but they are frequently offered and never denied upon request. If an instructor or department asks for training, district police will offer one.

 “At the active shooter training, we only had a handful, so there weren’t a lot of people that showed up for that,” he said.

Instructor Monica Ohkubo, a member of the SRJC Safety Committee, said, “There have been no active shooter drills or training [since the pandemic]. I hope that that’s something that restarts again because they used to have campus-wide lunchtime seminars where we could go learn and watch the video on ‘Run, Hide and Fight.’” 

Ohkulo also hopes the training expands to other safety topics including “fire and air quality, earthquake safety, some of the things that we were trying to advance in the District Health and Safety Committee prior to COVID,” she said. 

Math Instructor Cortney Schultz teaches at Kunde Hall and said she receives safety training at the beginning of each semester as part of a professional development day. 

“There are a bunch of training sessions to choose from. I elect to take sessions in safety for a shooter situation, but it’s possible not to,” Schultz said. 

Schultz also receives emails about campus safety, but said they speak to multiple subjects including COVID protocols, fire safety and student behavioral issues. “So anything about shooter safety is kind of lost in the woodworks,” she said.

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About the Contributor
Hana Seals
Hana Seals, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Hana Seals (she/her) is in her fourth semester at Santa Rosa Junior College, and is preparing to transfer to a four-year school with a major in Journalism. She mainly covers breaking news, community issues and local crime. Outside of writing she spends her time watching documentaries, drawing and opening time with friends and family. Professional content consumer.

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  • R

    ROBERT A MITCHELLDec 12, 2022 at 12:53 am

    In other words, your a sitting duck at SRJC.

  • M

    Mateo PruskyDec 11, 2022 at 1:19 pm

    We should be encourage responsible firearm ownership.