Gun violence on college campuses has become a major issue for many schools, and by implementing new educational courses and initiatives, the University of San Francisco is opening up the discussion. Two graduate students within the Higher Education and Student Affairs program (HESA), Andrea Mozqueda and Sharon Singh, came up with the idea for the multi-part initiative. This dialogue is influenced by the multiple shootings on college campuses in the past couple weeks, including those in Oregon, Tennessee and California, as well as the announcement of the closure of the last gun shop in San Francisco, High Bridge Arms.
In order to promote gun violence awareness, Mozqueda and Singh have reached out to multiple organizations on campus, including Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Student Disability Services (SDS), the Cultural Centers, and Public Safety. The result has been the multiple part initiative on campus. “We have become really committed to bringing awareness to the community at USF because we haven’t heard any interaction from any administrators” said Singh. Singh did say that some professors have brought the issue up, but she pointed out that, as a whole, USF has not confronted or even discussed gun violence, and many students are unfamiliar with recent shootings.
Students, faculty, and members of the community are welcome to drop in on the discussion this Thursday, Oct. 29. As it is during dead hour, Mozqueda and Singh anticipate a large audience. “We really want to hear student’s voices, if there are other students planning what they would do [during an emergency] we want to know so that we can bring that to the attention of the university,” mentioned Singh. This discussion will occur from 11:30am to 1:30pm, in the University Ministry Romero Room.
Mozqueda and Singh stressed how important it is that this discussion is a safe space for all students to feel comfortable enough to bring up any concerns or ideas they have regarding gun violence. Mozqueda recently talked with some students who came up with their own emergency preparedness plans. “When I was in college I never had to think about something like that,” said Mozqueda.
Both Mozqueda and Singh emphasized that USF is a community, and that USF has to prepare for emergencies as a community. “This isn’t just a place where people work, it’s a place where people live and thrive in. It’s a community really.” said Mozqueda. Singh added, “We want the University to help the students really grow and value that we’re here for them as a community.” They hope to see the school come together on this issue, and carry that connectedness out through the next couple years.
Public Safety has played a large role in the second part of the initiative, which is an emergency preparedness educational series open to students, faculty, and staff. This series is meant to bring prevention and readiness measures to campus. “Even though it may not happen here, what if something was to happen here?” said Singh. “Knowing that 3 shootings could happen in one week, and that they’re getting closer and closer to home is really scary, but we don’t want students to live in fear,” she continued. These classes will aim to alleviate student’s worries about emergencies through planning and discussion, and will occur on Nov. 4 and 10 in the McLaren Center.
There will also be a week long session in the spring, which will reiterate the discussion occurring in the next few weeks. This session will talk about larger issues surrounding gun violence rather than putting the spotlight on the assailants in particular events. “It will be really focusing on ‘if something was to happen, what is the aftercare?’” said Singh. She mentioned both the classes this month and in the spring will focus on the “so what now model” and will assure students that if something were to happen the university will talk about it and that they will have the space to process any emergency events.
Those who wish to attend the class on Nov. 4 or 10 can RSVP at http://myusf.usfca.edu/content/emergency-preparedness-educational-series-rsvp.