In light of Monday’s attack on the Ohio State University campus, we’re taking a look at security measures closer to home.
We’ve talked with the University of Hawaii in the past about its text and email alert system. We went to the Manoa campus Monday to find out how many students have signed up for it and how often it’s used.
Depending on the level of emergency, the alerts involve text, email or social media. More than 50,000 have signed up for the UH emergency alert system, and a big chunk of that number comes from people at the Manoa campus.
Students like freshman Chan Jeong says the emergency alert system helps them feel safe. “Every time something happens on campus, they let us know through school email, saying like, watch out, avoid these areas, if there’s somebody suspicious around.”
Over 18,000 students attend UH Manoa and 4,000 of them live in dormitories. In addition, there are over 6,000 campus employees.
We also brought up the topic of a campus police presence in light of what happened at Ohio State — is it something UH should also have?
University spokesperson Dan Meisenzahl says there are other security measures — emergency call boxes and security cameras — as well as members of a Department of Public Safety which patrol the campus on a regular basis and act as a go-between for law enforcement.
But these security guards are not armed.
Junior Kelli Lyman says the Manoa campus could always be safer. “With the Dept. of Public Safety, I understand they do the best they can. But I don’t feel they’re properly equipped, especially in the case of a gun violence outbreak. What can they do with just like a flashlight? They can’t really do anything to protect us.”
In light of recent violent incidents on college campuses nationwide, Lyman says she’d like to see State Sheriffs on patrol.
“During the day, I feel relatively safe,” she said, “but at night, I get a little concerned.
“I think there could be more patrols by, I’d say, maybe sheriffs. This is a state-run university and sheriffs are state employed. They could pose more safety for us students. They’re the ones who are armed.”
When asked if such an idea is feasible, Meisenzahl said “I think anything could be feasible. Now, police officers are on if there’s special events, but there hasn’t been a situation where we would need them on a regular basis. We would like to put whatever measures are in place.”
We spoke with the state Department of Public Safety and a spokesperson said its sheriff division resources do not currently allow for campus patrols. But in a statement, the department said “if we are approached by the University of Hawaii, we would be willing to sit down and discuss their safety concerns.”
But are there funds available for sheriffs to patrol the Manoa campus? State Sen. Will Espero says there is money in the state budget and it all depends on how the money is prioritized.