At 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, April 6, KTVU took to Twitter to report a shooting near the Mills campus. The tweet read, “#BREAKING: A man was fatally shot at a gas station at Seminary Ave. and MacArthur Blvd. at around 10:30 p.m.” Mills students’ phones began to beep around midnight as they received the Mills alert system automated text message: “Police are investigating an incident near the Valero gas station near Sem./Mac. The Oakland Police Department (OPD) has advised us there is no threat to campus.”
The Campanil staff feels that being provided with information about the shooting an hour and a half after it happened is unacceptable. Because Public Safety is responsible for keeping our campus safe, they should be reporting incidents to us as they happen (especially in such close proximity to campus) rather than after they happen. Instead of telling us there is no threat to campus, we believe it would be better to be alerted of incidents that happen near campus, and updated as new information comes. Regardless of the fact that the shooting was deemed not a threat to campus by the OPD, that does not mean that we, as students concerned for our safety, should have to discover these incidents from outside news sources before we hear from our own campus security.
The realm of specificity is also murky when it comes to information students received from Public Safety. The text message did not include anything that indicated the “incident” was in fact a fatal shooting. We at The Campanil have also found that calling Public Safety for information is unhelpful and does not alleviate the concerns that students might feel for their safety; some of us called Public Safety about the shots fired shortly after they were heard near campus, only to have concerns effectively dismissed.
Those of us who live off campus also feel that timely alerts and more transparency about what goes on outside the gates would be helpful. It is a question of protecting ourselves in case we decide to walk home, or to leave campus for a Mills hoagie during a late-night studying session. If we are left in the dark about what is going on until we receive notice that there is no threat to campus, the notification is not useful.
The Campanil staff is unsure of where Public Safety is on the receiving end of information. We do not know the OPD’s policy on updating our campus security. We don’t know if calling the OPD directly with inquiries is a better option. We don’t know the alternatives to learning information when it happens. These are questions that concern increased transparency on Public Safety’s part. What is our best option?