Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Increased local school security could impact volunteers

Following the Dec. 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Tuscaloosa school and city officials began reassessing school safety plans. Although many of these changes have not been put into place, they could affect student groups on campus that volunteer in Tuscaloosa schools.

Many student-led mentoring programs on campus go into schools weekly and work with local children of all ages. In many cases, these programs require an application process and background check before UA students able to get involved.

Vicki Holt, a former employee of the Tuscaloosa County School System and current faculty advisor for READ Alabama, a UA student-led literacy improvement and mentoring program, said school officials are also examining door locks and the possibility of installing doorbell systems in the schools.

“The superintendent’s office is going around to all schools to make sure they have the ability to remotely lock and unlock the front door with a doorbell system, and if they aren’t fully equipped to do so, providing the schools with those safety measures,” Holt said. “They’re also making sure that they are using the doorbell system, because not everyone has been.”

Although the safety changes could make it harder for UA mentors to access the schools and their students, READ director of community relations Laurel Reeves said she thinks the changes will underscore the importance of the work the UA students are doing.

“If anything, I hope that [the safety changes] will make the volunteers take being in the schools a little more seriously and understand that they are not here for a play date,” Reeves said.

(See also in Opinion: “Rethinking gun policies in schools and universities”)

However, Reeves said many of the changes are more of a reinforcement of the policies that were already in place at the schools and doesn’t think the changes will impair the volunteers.

“I don’t think the safety changes will have a negative impact on volunteers in any way. I don’t think wearing your ID will scare anyone away from volunteering,” Reeves said. “As far as I can tell, they’re not necessarily making that many changes to the current safety procedures; they’re just enforcing them more strictly. For instance, we as volunteers are required to have ID’s on us at all times. In the past I think that was more of a recommended thing.”

Despite the proposed safety changes, Holt isn’t convinced they will effectively protect the students of these elementary schools throughout Tuscaloosa.

“Yes, you’ve got to keep your school safe. You’ve got to keep your kids safe,” Holt said. “But in hindsight, you can’t always keep them safe. If somebody wants to get in a building and do harm, they’re going to. They’re going to find a way to do that.”

Additionally, although many of the proposed increases in security could be beneficial, Reeves said it will be hard to effectively anticipate and stop those who are determined to do harm.

“Some of the safety measures I’ve heard of, for example the doorbell system, will increase school safety. Locking classroom doors from the inside is also a good idea,” Reeves said. “That way if someone should get in, there is at least something between students and harm. But honestly, when it comes to radical individuals coming to schools with guns, I don’t know that there is much that you can do about that.”

Also in today’s Crimson White:

Change in military policy allows women to serve in combat

Recorded by students: Campus MovieFest finale to screen top 16 films

Group brings film and brews to Bama Theatre for Groundhog Day



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