Trading liberties for security

Getting to school on time is a tremendous pain. With the traffic, the crowded hallways, and those new metal detectors, it’s getting really inconvenient. Having to empty out all your belongings into a little plastic bin, then have security wand you, disclosing the locations of all your piercings, that’s no fun either. The airport theme at this campus is really coming full circle.

Imagine if that were really the case.

Security is always a concern on campus. It really should be. There are thousands of students that come here and only a handful of security officers to patrol it. Following the stabbing on Sept. 17 many have suggested in social media that the campus needs even more security. But to what end?

This stabbing incident was something to be concerned about but not for the reasons some might think. This wasn’t a security problem. A problem of not recognizing red flags or of mental illness, perhaps, but security couldn’t have done anything more.

This wasn’t a random attack. It was targeted. The two men apparently knew one another so this attack could have just as easily taken place off school grounds. Besides, even an increase in security doesn’t necessarily mean a security officer would have been immediately present for the attack or that the attack wouldn’t have taken place elsewhere.

Sure, maybe increased security would deter such behaviour on campus, but keep in mind who foots the bill for this. You, the student, pay for it through tuition and fees. A spike in tuition to help prevent an attack that could just as easily take place somewhere else doesn’t do anyone any good. Also bear in mind your own privacy.

Certain social liberties have to be sacrificed to increase security, such as your privacy, your right to move through the school without being stopped and questioned about your intent, to not have people sift through your bags and purses looking for anything that might harm someone.

Continuing on the airport theme, where do we draw the line on what people are and aren’t allowed to bring onto campus? Nobody knows why you can’t bring nail clippers on a plane but it’s an accepted norm. What will people have to sacrifice for the paranoid few to feel secure when there is no imminent immediate threat?

Paranoia is something to be concerned about. Maybe cameras would have helped, maybe more security officers, but there is no way to ensure that weapons don’t enter the school. Everything is a weapon. It wouldn’t be difficult to find something sharp in the toolboxes you see students carrying around campus or in one of the many workshops.

This wasn’t a mass shooting akin to Virginia Tech or a repeat of the Calgary stabbings last year. There should always be an effort to prevent attacks like these from happening, but increasing security presence isn’t going to help.

Look at the Isla Vista killings, where a former Santa Barbara City College student went on a rampage killing six people and murdering thirteen others before committing suicide. A terrifying thought, to be sure, but red flags were flying long before Elliot Rodger began his killing spree.

A YouTube video outlining his attack, blog posts about all the social issues he was having, his rejection of mental health treatment, and a request from a family member to the police to check on him all flew under the radar until it was too late.

It’s not known if Hamza Tariq, the man accused in the stabbing at Durham College, has a mental illness or not but the point is this. True security doesn’t come from adding more officers to the hall or installing metal detectors. It comes from awareness. In most of mass shootings and stabbings the perpetrators flew bright red flags that went unacknowledged.

The unfortunate truth of all of this is that not all crime can be prevented. Sometimes reacting is all that can be done.