Community Colleges nationwide united on Thursday Oct. 8 for a moment of silence in honor of the lives lost in the Oregon school shooting.
Photo by Vladimir Avina/ Tejano Tribune
Brandon Gainey (L) and other EPCC students bow their heads during a moment of silence remembering the victims of the Oregon shooting.
The event was organized by the American Association of Community Colleges. Rocio Fierro, Student Government Association (SGA) president, spoke at the ceremony.
“The main purpose of this was because these shootings have been so common. At first, we were shocked, now it is a repetitive event,” Fierro said.
“That national moment of silence is bringing everybody together by listening and taking the time to think about what happened. There are families that lost their son, their daughter, somebody lost their best friend, somebody lost their significant other and there is nothing that we can do for them except be there in support of them.
Some students are worried that with the new state law allowing concealed handguns on college campuses more tragedies like these will begin to happen nation-wide.
“You can cover yourself with a gun but that’s not going to stop a shooter from bringing a weapon to school and causing the damage they seek,” Francisco Leyva, student at EPCC, said.
“Some of the concerns students have are about their safety because of these different tragedies that have happened ever since Columbine, [and] this last time with Oregon. They have come up to me and asked, ‘what can I do to protect myself?’ And there is not a straight forward answer to that especially because of the new law that was passed. We cannot control who comes in and who comes out,” Fierro said.
Jose L. Ramirez, EPCC Police Department Chief, assures that police are ready if an event like this happens at any EPCC campus.
“We are as prepared as we can be, we have done continuous training and will continue to do so,” Ramirez said. “An event like that is very difficult to predict, we have done a lot of active shooter presentations. It’s important to know what to expect in a situation like that.”
SGA is working with the Board and EPCC President Dr. William Serrata on plans for the new law which will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2017 for two-year college campuses and Sept. 1, 2016 for four-year college campuses.
“Right now we are brainstorming as a student government and communicating with our Board and President Serrata,” Fierro said.
“We need to find a way to make our students feel welcomed, not threatened. They need to focus more on their schoolwork and have it be the environment that it should be.”