The East Los Angeles College community is put at high risk because of lack of organized emergency responses.
Given the recent school shootings within the United States in the last year alone, it is of great importance to have safety locked in place so that ELAC will not be a victim of tragedy in the future.
On the evening of Nov.24, while students, faculty and staff were active on campus, the Monterey Park Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to a rumor of an active shooter.
It was reported that two Hispanic males, one wearing a blue shirt and black shorts, were hanging around by the South Gym. The anonymous caller said one had a gun.
Exits were blocked by the South Gym on Avenida Cesar Chavez and Floral Drive and police were on standby with body armor and weapons.
Students, faculty and staff roamed the campus unaware of the potential danger.
ELAC President Marvin Martinez did not declare an official lockdown despite police initiating lockdown procedures.
Some students, faculty and staff arriving for evening classes were told that classes were canceled. This put even more people at risk, especially as many cars tried to leave the parking structures at once.
Had it not been for people outside of campus texting those in classes or for social media outlets, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, most students, faculty and staff would not have known about the potential threat on campus.
President Martinez said in a faculty meeting Thursday that the reason why he did not call for a lockdown was to avoid panic.
The lack of information and response demonstrated in the recent threat, has given students, faculty and staff a reason to panic.
It is irresponsible to not follow through on proper emergency responses, especially in cases where police had weapons ready.
During the meeting, faculty also said that students do not feel safe and action needs to be taken to insure that a future tragedy does not happen.
This summer, a similar incident occurred with a vague description of two Hispanic suspects, similar to the suspects that were described in the recent threat.
As in the recent case, students, faculty and staff were not notified properly. Apparently nothing was learned from that incident.
Loud-speakers that surround the outside campus and also inside some buildings are supposed to alert the campus of any threat, but not all classrooms have working loud-speakers for this purpose.
Also during the summer session emergency, the volume of the loud-speakers was turned down and students were not able to hear the alerts.
They had been turned down for some time due to complaints from the surrounding neighborhood.
On Thursday faculty also said the South Gate campus is not properly equipped for emergencies such as fires and earthquakes, let alone an active shooter.
There is no loud-speaker set-up as used on the ELAC main campus. Martinez’s plan of action is that the South Gate Police Department will handle it if such a situation occurs.
Students, faculty and staff have signed up for emergency texts and email alerts for situations like these.
This emergency response procedure, however, was incredibly inconsistent in this case.
Some students got a text only after it was over, while others didn’t. Administration must decide to send an alert during times like these.
It is the responsibility of President Martinez and the administration to provide a safe learning environment for the ELAC community.
Without proper response to emergencies, this will only keep students, faculty and staff in panic and fear, an ultimate distraction in higher education.