On Wednesday, January 10th, as my honors philosophy class was wrapping up at Cal State San Bernardino, several of my students informed me that our school had just sent an emergency email advising us to “shelter in place.” The reason: there were reports of gunshots fired on campus, with a bullet shattering a window in the Visual Arts building. Fortunately, no one was injured.
My students and I sheltered in place that evening until approximately 11 PM. Throughout the ordeal I was both afraid and upset. Afraid for the obvious reasons. I was upset because our classroom door had no lock. And our classroom was not special in this way. Many classrooms on campus—indeed, most of them, as far as I can tell—do not lock from the inside. I find this appalling given the frequency of mass shootings in this country. I need not remind readers about the horrific mass shooting in San Bernardino just over two years ago and the terrible North Park Elementary school shooting last year.
The purpose of locks is to provide security. And certainly the university understands this: it’s presumably why locks are provided on every professor’s office door, as well as every department office. And yet classrooms, where the majority of our students are located throughout the day, largely remain lockless. Locks do not, of course, guarantee safety in an active shooter scenario, but they have the potential to save a substantial number of lives (and at a relatively low cost to the university). I hope readers will pressure local colleges to provide locks on all classroom doors, and thereby provide better protection for our students.
Dr. Brandon Johns
Department of Philosophy
California State University, San Bernardino