Student safety should not solely be the responsibility of schools

It’s the first newspaper of the year, and we are again discussing school security. It may seem redundant, but in light of the ongoing construction to build the Northfield campus’ wall/vestibules, the installation of side entrance cameras at the Winnetka campus to prevent students from opening unauthorized doors, and new lock down protocols at both campuses, the issue of safety remains a pressing concern.

These positive steps are important because the responsibility of preventing and minimizing school shootings has fallen solely upon academic institutions rather than local and federal governments. We applaud the administration’s continuous efforts to improve security and keep students safe in the face of governmental inaction.

Last year, the NT administration implemented various security measures including the double-buzzer vestibules, limiting the number of entrances available (both during the school day and after school), installing blinds and shatter-resistant film on some new building interior windows, and stricter protocol for visitors. These actions demonstrate that the administration is aware of, and working to fix, security shortcomings at both campuses.

But, dealing with a potential gun threat should not fall on the shoulders of schools. Improving school security is a temporary solution for a much larger, national issue. Because our national government has repeatedly failed to pass common-sense gun control measures–such as banning assault weapons, mandating universal background checks, and banning high-capacity magazines–it seems as though there is only so much that students and the school can do.

Despite the powerlessness we might feel, it is necessary not to give in to complacency. Even with the increased levels of security, we cannot ignore the threat of gun violence, both in our own school and throughout the country. School shootings will not be halted even by adding ever-increasing layers of security. If that were the case, both school shootings and gun violence in general would have stopped years ago. Yet, this most definitely is not the case.

According to the Washington Post, “More than 187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine.”

This number will only increase without common sense gun control measures. As the 2019 Parkland, El Paso, Dayton, and Odessa shootings demonstrate, gun violence in America is a problem that is far from being solved.

There is no instant solution to America’s mass shooting problem. For any progress to be made, young people must assume an active role politically because it is our duty as students and citizens. If we do not demand action from our government, we can’t expect any change.

We should feel compelled to share our stories, experiences, and concerns with our legislators. We need to tell our representatives what we want, whether by voting (for those of you who are 18 or will be soon), peacefully protesting, or by writing letters. Complacency breeds indifference, and we are at a moment in our country where indifference to gun legislation has proved fatal. And the 2020 elections, which are just around the corner, will be a great opportunity to take action.

Let’s not forget that we also have the power to enact change on a smaller scale, too. Moving forward, students should continue to maintain an open dialogue with the administration about the security changes that have or will be implemented.