Humanities Hot Topic: Safety and security on campuses

Ellie Lowe, Staff Writer

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On Wednesday, the comparative and digital humanities department continued its Humanities Hot Topics lunch series with a discussion about the safety and security of children on school campuses. The event took place at noon, with a free lunch provided, in the Humanities Center Coffee Lounge in Hildreth-Mirza Hall.

The department has been hosting the Humanities Hot Topics program since the fall semester of 2018. The program holds periodic discussions, led by both students and professors, about various current events that give all students a chance to voice their opinions, hear differing perspectives, and ultimately engage in enriching discussion with their peers. Additionally, the program bridges the gap between the University and the real world. Humanities Hot Topics was initiated by Adam Burgos, Erica Delsandro, and Mehmet Dosemeci during the Brett Kavanaugh trial, which was the first “hot topic” of the series.

The conversation that took place this week focused on on-campus safety and security, following up from the “Keeping Our Kids Safe: A Conversation about Safety at our Public Schools” panel on Monday. The panel featured the Lewisburg Area School District Superintendent Steven Skalka, school board representative Cory Heath, Chief of the Buffalo Valley Regional police Paul Yost, and various University faculty, education students, and members of the public.

In the continued discussion on Wednesday, individuals elaborated on the topics of how to appropriately communicate with youths about safety threats and the use of ALICE training methods for active shooter response. During the discussion, students brought up their own experiences with safety protocol throughout their lives, specifically highlighting the similarities and differences across private versus public schools and religious versus non-religious schools. The professors also shared their experiences with safety protocol and how things have changed throughout their lifetimes.

“Bucknell students who have lived through Sandy Hook and Parkland have a lot to say and should be listened to about their experience with school safety,” said History Professor Claire Campbell.

Preventative measures were also a significant topic of discussion. The conversation touched upon the psychological effects that the presence of armed security guards and metal detectors in schools might have on students. Gun control was also litigated intensely, with questions such as whether there should be more or fewer guns in schools, and whether protocols for situations like active shooters are beneficial if many active shooters are people who already know the protocol and can circumvent it.

“What safety means is too easily taken for granted as policing and I think that is the central problem with how school safety is thought about,” Assistant Professor of Philosophy Adam Burgos said.

Another element that was talked about was mental health and gender, and how understanding them could help make schools safer. A question raised was whether it would be beneficial to have more police or counselors on school campuses.

“The conversation of school safety is incomplete if we are not talking about gender. We need to talk about gender,” noted Assistant Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies Erica Delsandro.

The next Humanities Hot Topics event is during Humanities Week on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at noon in Hildreth-Mirza Hall.

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