After the Feb. 4 shooting on MacArthur Blvd. left the campus on lock-down, some at Mills were left with concerns about the school’s safety alert system.
“I had no idea that there was a shooting right off a campus and I think all Mills students, faculty, and staff deserve to be alerted every time there is a shooting in the vicinity of Mills Campus,” said Laura Chin, a senior English major at Mills.
The shooting occurred at approximately 11 a.m. according to the Oakland Tribune and left one man wounded. Oakland police officers blocked the street to investigate the shooting and collect evidence.
Ben Harmon, an officer with the Mills College Department of Pubic Safety, said that the school was not involved, but that The Oakland Police Department (OPD) redirected traffic on MacArthur to turn around on campus through Richards Gate.
The victim’s wounds were not critical, according to Harmon, and the fire department and paramedics were not called.
Niviece Robinson, Director of Public Safety, said that the incident did not warrant an alert.
Robinson said the Department of Public Safety’s procedure is to contact the OPD dispatch and ask if it is a threat to the campus. Robinson said OPD assured her the recent shooting was not an immediate threat to those on campus, and that it was an isolated incident.
“We contacted OPD and they let us know there had been a shooting off site and that the suspect was gone from the area,” Robinson said. “There was no threat to the campus.”
Sarah Renning, a sophomore Studio Art major at Mills, saw the police collecting evidence after the shooting. Renning said she left campus at around 1 p.m. and when she returned, she could see two police cars on Macarthur Blvd. She said she also saw the police activity from the road behind the Mary Morse Residence Hall.
Renning said she was concerned that Public Safety did not alert the Mills community about the shooting.
“I would like to think the only alert system I need to subscribe to is through the Mills network,” Renning said. She referred to the shooting at Oikos University last year and that Mills did not notify the community about the incident until a full day after.
Colleen Kimsey, a senior in International Public Health, said students should not expect full disclosure about crimes near campus.
“But what’s the ‘vicinity of Mills’?” Kimsey asked. “Would knowing that a shooting has happened make anyone any safer or just contribute to Mills students’ general fear and paranoia about Oakland?”
Public Safety has left out other shootings near campus from the campus emergence alert system. Krista Coreris, Administrative Assistant for Public Safety told The Campanil in 2012 that a shooting that October was not considered to be a threat to those
“We consult with OPD and if there’s no threat to students, no alert is issued,” Coreris said at the time.
According to Robinson, Department of Public Safety consults with an emergency management team consisting of people from various departments on campus, including the Division of Student Life, APER, campus facilities, housing, and dining services.
“When I get a call, I contact the emergency management team,” Robinson said. “We let them now what’s going on.”
Robinson said that this is also the procedure that would be taken in the case of a time-sensitive emergency, such as an immediate threat on campus. The emergency management team has pre-programmed alerts ready for specific situations.
The Department of Public Safety is particular about web and social media resources because the information goes through a chain of command.
“We decide on what statement we’re going to send out as a group,” Robinson said. “It’s really important when something’s going on, you want to give the correct information.”
Robinson said that the emergency management team wants to send a report out to the community when it is an actual emergency.
A Public Safety sergeant heard the gunshots, along with members of the Mills College Children’s School, according to Harmon. The Children’s School placed themselves on lockdown until the sergeant told them it was clear.
But even after the lockdown, public safety did not issue a statement.
“To me, that’s not okay. Public Safety has a responsibility to keep us safe, and I feel a part of that is keeping us informed about the potential and the very real danger in our immediate community,” Renning said.