By Michael Shultz
The HEC building on Riverside Campus has added security features: red lockdown buttons on each floor. While student and faculty reactions are mixed, the new feature offers an unprecedented level of security at Rogue Community College.
There are currently three lockdown buttons, one on each floor. When someone pushes one of the lockdown buttons, all exterior doors and a few internal doors (such as the stairwells) lock as well. Each door locks from the inside, meaning anyone can leave — but no one can enter.
The buttons were installed about a month ago according to Grant Lagorio, Director of Facilities and Operations for Riverside Campus. The doors that do not lock have manual lockdown features, and Lagorio said eventually every building at RCC will have lockdown capabilities.
Lagorio said they are not yet finished with the implementation of the lockdown feature. In the future, when the button is pushed, a pre-recorded message will let everyone in the campus know what they should do.
According to Lagorio, American’s history of violence on college campuses was the inspiration behind the feature being added. He said he hopes RCC will never have to use the feature — but that it is important to be prepared for the worst.
However, not everyone is pleased. Wolfgang Runzi, a humanities instructor on Riverside Campus, believes such serious security features conflict with the idea of academic freedom.
“Maybe I’m just too optimistic in humanity, but I’ve never seen the need,” Runzi said. “This is the first institution I’ve seen with such extreme security.”
Runzi believes the college is buying into a moral panic or overreaction to the threat of violence. He believes introducing such extreme security features brings an element of fear onto campus that was not present before.
He said he’d rather live with the risk of something happening than work in an environment that can become prison-like at the push of a button.
Like the fire alarms of yesteryear, Runzi wonders if students will use the buttons maliciously.
“It’s just a matter of time before somebody uses it to get out of a test or an assignment,” he said.
Greg Marton, a psychology instructor at RCC, had a more positive outlook on the situation.
“It doesn’t really bother me,” Marton said. “It’s just a concession we have to make to reality.”
Marton said the school is located in a very dangerous neighborhood. Many people have been assulted within blocks of camp-us, and at least one death has been reported.
But Marton also admires and trusts the facilities staff at RCC.
“I don’t think we need to second guess those taking care of us,” Marton said.
The reaction from students seemed to be neutral.
“I have no problem with security,” Greg Johns said. “I don’t think it’s necessary. If it’s something that costs a lot I don’t think it’s worth it.”
Johns also said he thought it would be too easy for anyone to just walk up and push one of the buttons.
Another student, Katie Stanislawski said the excess security makes her feel a little like she’s in a prison. She said she doesn’t think a lot could happen at a community college in Medford, Oregon.
“I really don’t think it’s necessary,” Stanislawski said. “I can’t imagine a situation where we’d need it.”
Lagorio said it is impossible to get locked into the building, since each door opens from the inside. The new features are simply a precaution, and are not meant to create an oppressive atmosphere.
“We’re always looking to build a safer environment,” Lagorio said. “You never know what can happen, so we’re preparing for the worst.”