As seen in the March 28 print edition
When the armed campus security guards first showed up, in January, there was loud, brief community outcry. Some thought them unnecessary, and others went further, calling them potentially dangerous; after all, they have scary guns and scary cars and they showed up unannounced. But now, a couple months in, we’re mostly used to them (they seem nice enough) and for a while, they made us feel at least somewhat safer from the possibility of predators — that is, until the lockdown on Thursday, March 6.
Because on that day, at 2:45 p.m., when a person claiming to be a 16-year-old male Beverly student being held hostage in the auditorium called the police, the school sounded the lockdown alarm, but according two sources who were in the main building at the time, the alarm rang at “around 3:00,” and it did so in only some classrooms.
On this particular Thursday, Period 7 ended at 2:51, four minutes after the person contacted the police. The alarm did not sound inside the library, where students were studying. It did not ring in the science building, the library or the second-floor patio, which is to say, of course, that it did not ring everywhere — students and teachers kept calm and carried on without knowing that they probably should have been terrified — and even where it did ring, according to a teacher who asked to remain anonymous, it took around 15 minutes from the time the alleged victim called to ring. And after it did ring, some students walked off campus, easily and unquestioned.
Additionally, we are dismayed by the administration’s handling of the aftermath of the situation. When it was dissatisfied with the API score, an emergency assembly was called. When it didn’t like what we were tweeting, it imported a cast of B-list celebrities. But when half the school spent two hours locked in classrooms and the library and the auditorium, literally and legitimately scared for their lives, wondering if the footsteps outside were his, wondering whether any of it — the tests, “The Wiz,” the water-polo tournament — even mattered anymore, wondering where the hell those multi-million-dollar security guards were, wondering if the rumor was true, that this was all a hoax, when the school was more shaken than it’s been in recent memory, the administration said nothing. No assembly. No email. (To be clear, an email did come a week after the fact, which addressed the issue of security, but coldly and dryly; i.e., only by entirely avoiding discussion of the specific situation and our consequential feelings.) Over the past four years, the current administration has been working hard on Norman nationalism, on increasing school spirit to help us love this place where we spend huge amounts of time, so its silence on this issue, and its inability to facilitate group comforting (ask any history teacher: this is the root of nationalism), was not only disappointing; it’s embarrassing and it’s inexcusable.
For these reasons, we are naturally skeptical of our administration’s and school board’s vowed commitment to our safety. It’s one thing to pay a few people to walk around with guns; it’s another thing entirely to truly care about our safety. Why didn’t all the alarms go off, and why did they take so long? Why hasn’t any sort of authority figure spoken up? What is being done to not only restore us with a feeling of security, but also, this time, to make us truly safe? We’re sorry to be so impertinent — or, more accurately, we’re sorry we feel required to be so impertinent — but we have to ask: do you even care?