Security issues debated


As seen in the Nov. 8 issue
Mabel Kabani, editor-in-chief
Recent national incidents of school-related shootings in the past year prompted discussion regarding increasing school security.
Though some teachers, students and members of BHUSD are eager to re-evaluate and add to the current security measures, others are not prepared to sacrifice their freedom for security.
“I don’t really know if I would be willing to give up the open campus of the school for extra security,” senior Alex Massachi said. “We live in a relatively safe and high-profile area so I’m not sure if more security is really needed.”
English teacher Steven Rubenstein agrees with Massachi in that he is hesitant to give up the “open culture” of the school just so that people can feel more safe.
“Of course there are always improvements the school can make in terms of security, but I don’t think overreacting [to recent shootings] and changing the culture of the school is the way to go,” Rubenstein said. “We fear things that we can’t always control; locking a few more doors won’t stop a shooter, but people worry about these dangers over those that we have some control over, such as pollution from toxic gas emissions.”
A sophomore, who wishes to remain anonymous, however, believes that security should take priority over the “aesthetic concepts of the school and the preferences of the staff and student body” because “they always want what is most convenient for them.”
“At school I need to feel safe in order to learn, and that won’t be possible for me if I don’t have faith in the school’s security guards or other security systems that are supposed to prevent trespassers,” she said. “I saw a random stranger sitting on the second floor patio a couple weeks ago covered in black trash bags and I got truly scared. Why didn’t security come to escort him away sooner? Better yet, how is someone like this allowed on campus? What if he was dangerous?”
On Friday, Oct. 11, a student intruder wearing a mask, black clothing and trash bags stepped onto campus without being stopped by the security guards, according to an email sent out to faculty members  the next day by House C Assistant Principal Toni Staser.  The student was accompanied with an adult female who sent out to faculty members the next day by House C Assistant Principal Toni Staser.  The student was accompanied with an adult female who was videotaping the reactions of students.
“[The intruder] came into our class while we were discussing ‘Inferno’ and I honestly thought it was the end,” senior Paloma Bloch recalled of the events that took place in her fourth period class. “I was shocked by how easy it was for this stranger to simply stroll into our classroom.”
After a concerned teacher alerted security of the intrusion, the student was asked to remove his mask by security guards. However, he refused, according to Staser’s email, and was then promptly arrested by the BHPD (Beverly Hills Police Department), along with his female companion. The student, a member of the Independent Studies program at Beverly, was suspended for five days and is now no longer allowed on the school campus without permission from either his Independent Studies teacher or the administration.
“I was afraid of something like this happening,” the anonymous sophomore said. “Beverly alumni can easily saunter onto campus to visit old teachers, so of course its easy for others to enter campus as well. Security needs to concentrate on keeping strangers off campus rather than focusing on keeping students in during lunch hours.”
Art teacher Michael Federman believes that the incident with the student intruder “speaks volumes about our school” and that “this isn’t the day and age to pull these kinds of pranks.”
He believe the answer to the issues our school faces regarding security is to hire more security guards in order to create the perception that there is a “presence of a watchful eye over this school.”
“With such a huge open campus that has so many levels of elevation, it can be hard to navigate,” Federman said. “We need more security, but of course with budget related issues, that isn’t always possible.”
Though Federman believes there is a very prominent problem in the school’s security system, Staser believes that this school has “enough security.”
“We have six security guards at BHHS who cover our 23 acre campus. They know the campus and our students and are proactive in alerting us to any situation they feel need attention regarding safety or security,” Staser said.
Opinions related to security at the school differ widely; however, members of BHUSD have formed plans to increase security. The idea of building a kiosk on the front lawn, from which a security guard would stand watch and monitor the school, was presented last year and is still being considered, though, according to Staser, no formal plans have been set in place.