Staff Editorial: CSUB alert shows how unprepared we really are

The Runner Staff, Editorial Board

Canva graphic by Jocelynn Landon / The Runner

In light of recent rumors of an armed suspect at California State University, Bakersfield, we, as members of the campus, do not feel prepared with the proper protocols and resources to keep ourselves safe.  

“UPS [UPD] is aware of rumors of an armed subject on campus. We are unable to validate any immediate threat to the campus,” stated the first alert from CSUB’s Police Department. 

The CSUB alert sent to the campus community didn’t provide information on what steps to take. It let students know that there was a rumor of someone going around with a firearm. What were students supposed to do then?  

The alert should have offered advice and given instructions on how students could stay safe. There needed to be more serious measures taken in this situation, rather than a brief few sentences. 

CSUB held a town hall on Jan. 25 to address the rumor of an armed suspect, but an invite was only sent out to faculty and staff.  

This is a university, a place whose purpose is to serve and educate students. CSUB students, who pay thousands of dollars to attend the university, were not given the invitation to attend the town hall regarding the armed suspect on campus.  

When asked why students weren’t even notified if there was an all-clear, Chief of University Police Marty Williamson explained that there was never an incident to clear since it was just a rumor.  

UPD can send out the misspelled alert about there being a rumored armed suspect on campus, but cannot send another email to clarify that it is safe to be on campus? 

If the UPD had sent out another alert giving students the all-clear to be on campus, students would not have felt as anxious and scared as they did. 

Williamson also commented on how multiple phone calls were coming into their one receptionist at the time of the suspected threat regarding the spelling error of ‘UPD’ as ‘UPS.” 

“You don’t hear from us every five to six minutes, things are going on. I wish there was a playbook,” said Williamson. 

According to Williamson, if individuals on campus try calling 911, they’re redirected to the police department within the university.  

Hearing about a potential threat is reasonable grounds for wanting to call law enforcement. One receptionist cannot answer every call that’s coming in during an event like this. Students should be able to communicate with emergency services or the Bakersfield Police Department. 

Many faculty members expressed the stress they felt while working in the Walter W. Stiern Library and the Humanities complex during the town hall. They do not feel as though they would know what do to if an armed suspect entered these buildings.  

In response, they were told to figure out for themselves what would work best, but that the UPD is happy to consult with them to create a plan. Efforts to create a plan for an occupied building are placed on the employees rather than the police on our campus. 

Students aren’t invited to the conversation, and faculty and staff are expected to come up with their own plans. 

We constantly go on social media or turn on the TV to learn about a new mass shooting occurring, never expecting it to happen to us because who wants to truly believe that something so horrific can occur in their life. 

We need to do better. It could be as simple as a video tutorial that students, faculty, and staff have to review like Title IX. Other public universities like UC Davis and Irvine use key cards to enter certain buildings. 

This situation has made us realize that there is no correct protocol in place if tragedy were to strike. 

Students, faculty, and staff should all be on the same page in feeling that their campus is a safe place to be. We need a plan so that our community can feel safe coming to campus once again.