A shot rings out. Students run. Teachers cower. The campus falls silent. Time stands still.
The reality of this situation seems far from the minds of students on Mississippi College’s campus. Students do not think of the possibility, and faculty does not worry because it has never happened before.
In 2008, FBI statistics presented that 55 students were either victims of murder or non-negligent manslaughter on college campuses across America. Also in 2008, the bureau reported that 3,287 students were victims of a forcible sex offense. Over the span of four years, from 2005 to 2008, 174 murders were reported, and 13,842 victims experienced a forcible sex offense.
The reality of these situations seem lost on the MC campus, but on Mar. 3, head of MC security Steve McCraney appeared in the student Senate meeting to talk about the possibility of security officers being allowed to carry weapons on campus.
Currently, officers are not permitted to carry any weapons of force on campus. The only force they have is the force of their own physical ability.
Student senator Jerry Ainsworth presented the bill to the senate floor, and according to Senate President Chip Wilson, the bill was accepted.
The bill addressed the issue of weapons, but it left the decision of types of weapons and restraints to be decided by the Office of Public Safety.
One of the most impactful issues addressed by McCraney while on the floor was the issue of police response. According to McCraney, the Clinton Police Department said that will arrive on campus in three minutes in the case of an emergency.
The bill itself specifically states response as one of the biggest issues, saying, “Local law enforcement cannot provide adequate security on campus when dealing with incidents that involve an immediate response.”
MC’s Office of Public Safety is the fastest response available to students and faculty, but without weapons, the ability of that response to impact a threatening situation is lacking.
According to the Office of Public Safety’s webpage, one of their most important duties is the “protection of the safety and general welfare of students, faculty, staff, administration, and guests of Mississippi College.”
In the case of an emergency, the security officers would be able to respond more efficiently to situations on campus.
“Basically, all they can do is give me a ride to my dorm when I’m scared of walking alone at night,” said Freshman Senator Julianne James.
The bill was passed on the Senate floor. The next step after Senate passed the bill is for Executive Council to present the issue to administration.
“I feel administration does a great job of listening to students’ concerns and that this will be handled no differently,” said Wilson.
The bill was just the first step. The goal of bills in Senate is not that they would be immediately implemented but rather that Senate could be a way for administration to recognize what students want to change about their campus. This issue is no different.
“Executive Council has already presented this bill to administration, and they are going to figure out the best plan of action to implement this alongside Campus Security,” said Wilson.
– Grace Jones, Contributing Writer