University Administration Failed to Protect Students Against the Active Shooter Threat

Photo courtesy of UCSB

Jade Martinez-Pogue
National Beat Reporter

On Nov. 18, members of the Isla Vista community began their morning with an emergency notification from the University of California Police Department (UCPD) about an armed robbery on the 65 block of Sabado Tarde. The warning notified people to find a safe location and stay inside, “lock doors and move away from windows.” The university took action in warning students about the dangers of being outside, but failed to cancel classes or begin a lock-down procedure.

The suspects were seen with handguns leaving the Sabado Tarde house half an hour before 11 a.m. on Monday, a time in which many students are already at or making their way to campus. The University was in full knowledge of the severity of the situation, as can be seen by their warning for students to stay inside and lock their doors.

What worried many students was whether or not to listen to the warning and stay inside, leave the safety of their homes to go to class, or try and stay on campus and hope for the best. 

The school should have called for the cancellation of classes, or at least have begun a lock-down for the students already on campus the minute the alert was sent out.

Unfortunately, gun violence is something that has haunted U.C. Santa Barbara (UCSB) since it experienced the mass shooting in 2014. It is shocking that given the school’s history, the institution would not cancel classes or begin a lock-down at least until the situation was cleared up and there was no longer a threat to the community.

Some teachers counted that day as an excused absence so students did not have to choose between their safety and their academics, but that was up to their own individual discretion. UCSB students work extremely hard every quarter all year to get the most out of their education from one of California’s top universities. It is disheartening that the school would not do the absolute most to protect their students from a threat of this caliber.

By failing to cancel classes or lock down the school, it made students feel that the school did not care about them. No one — students, staff, or professors — should have been required to be on campus when there is a huge threat to the community blocks away. 

Perhaps the university did not have jurisdiction to cancel classes since the event happened in Isla Vista rather than on campus, but seeing that the incident was a five-minute walk to the school, something should have been able to happen. 

By failing to implement safety precautions on campus, students were forced to either prioritize their safety or their education — two things that should never have to compete for prioritization. 

The concepts of safety and education are inextricable from one another. It is impossible to learn in an unsafe environment, which is what students felt they were in knowing there was an armed suspect blocks away.

The text sent to students following the initial alert stated that the UCPD and the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department was not requesting a lock-down, they were simply providing information to “keep the community informed of an active ongoing investigation.”

Even though the police departments did not request a lock-down, the school should have taken accountability in protecting the students themselves. No one should have to worry about putting their lives in danger by going to class, and it is a shock that the school did not seem to understand that.