Admin should think again about new security policy

Ray Evans, Opinion Editor

Whenever a tragedy strikes, we try to make changes to prevent a similar event in the future- and rightly so. A tragedy can galvanize a community and give them the willpower to make long overdue changes. It can also spur a community to make rash decisions which fail to address the root causes of the problem as an escape vent for their sorrow and fear.

Sequoia high school began a new policy banning backpacks and full water bottles at athletic events, to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. Although it had all the right intentions, it is a misguided policy born out of fear. It is an invasion of people’s privacy without a clear benefit.

The administration argues that the new policy, which is in part modeled on policies of the NFL and other professional athletic leagues, is necessary for a safe environment at athletic events.

“Our top priority at Sequoia is keeping our community safe,” Administrative Vice Principal Sophia Olliver said. “Removing backpacks from sporting events and searching smaller bags helps better ensure events are fun and safe for all students.”

Olliver, however, doesn’t see this policy as a response to an underlying problem of any kind, and therein lies the problem. If this solution is not based on a specific problem, then what will it solve. Tighter security, which never addresses the material conditions which cause security threats, is simply a painkiller, not a cure. It may alleviate the patients pain, and it may be necessary, but it doesn’t make them any less sick.

Besides the new  bag policy, there has been heightened police presence at Sequoia around athletic events. On a surface level, this makes sense. Police will be able to provide another layer of security to events. But are more police really what we want around campus? Police may be well prepared to handle extreme situations. When they interact with an individual who is engaged in minor illegal activities, such as drug crimes, however, they are likely to arrest them and do even more harm to them as they travel through the justice system. According to statistics gathered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 55 percent of youth arrested will be arrested again within a year. Police are the first cog in this machine, and we don’t need more of them in our school community.

Additionally, many students may not trust law enforcement, and for good cause. Police forces throughout the United States have a long history of racial profiling violence, and cooperating with immigration enforcement. Although our local department has tried to address these issues, they still carry this baggage.

The first year youth recidivism rate is a staggering 55 percent

  If the goal of the new bag policy is to prevent drug or alcohol abuse or overdoses, it will do little. It will just mean people will overdose somewhere else. Preventing harm from overdoses is a commendable goal, but is moving where people use drugs a worthy trade for people’s privacy?

For years, security has been increasing at airports, theatres and especially at schools. The line of what is normal keeps creeping forward, and privacy erodes further. At the end of the day, though I don’t feel any safer. I am just left with the question; when will things go back to normal? When can I stop living in fear?