Kenyan attacks raise debate over school shootings


Deniz Ercan-Fang

Maddie Dekko ‘16, like every student, must enter a security code.

Sam Gittleman, Opinions Editor

When the Kenyan military joined forces with their Somali neighbors in 2012 to face Al-Shabaab, an Islamist terrorist organization associated with Al-Qaeda, the Kenyan government couldn’t have fathomed the resulting backlash and terror. Following Al-Shabaab’s responsibility in the 2013 Westgate Mall shooting, which resulted in 67 deaths and up to 175 injuries, international security concerns were raised, but still, the number of Kenyan officers remains low and politics prevented much action from taking place.

     But on April 2, 2015, five Al-Shabaab militants killed 147 people and injured 79 at Garissa University College, shaking Kenya, heightening security controversy in the country, and raising concern for schools all over.

     Though located in a vastly different environment from Blake, Garissa’s tragic attack had a multitude of effects on students, ranging from students feeling that Blake is immune to such violence, to students being reminded not to not take Blake’s protection for granted.

     Drew Anderson ‘17 says, “I’d have to say [the Kenya shooting] did heighten my awareness… but it hasn’t really changed my behavior.” Because the high school has such a clean track record regarding student safety, a popular sentiment among students follows that regardless of the happenings in other academic institutions, Blake doesn’t have to worry about any incidents.

     Reflecting these feelings Shruti Gupta ‘17 says, “I feel like for some reason I have this thought that, it’s just not gonna happen to Blake.”

      Blake offers protection via security cameras, electronic door locks and keypads. Monitoring these cameras and managing the safety at the school’s grounds is Upper School Security Officer Steve Haugh.

     While the school has never faced any threats approaching the level of severity of the Garissa attack, Haugh still has to prepare for potentially dangerous situations.

      Before the physical security measures, designed to prevent someone with harmful intentions from entering the school and endangering the people there, are needed, Haugh says, “Step one is prevention; we try to prevent something like [someone coming to the school with harmful intentions] from coming at us.” Haugh notes the “phenomenal job” the entire faculty does for prevention.

     Haugh states that having to “escort belligerent people out of the building” was the most serious threat he faced. Additionally, the school has crafted a plethora of lockdown and bomb threat plans for the school in case of emergency.

     While the hard work of the security team can often go unrecognized, students  like Mark Taylor ‘16, still realize the privilege of safety Blake has. Taylor concludes, “Sometimes it feels unnecessary when we have lockdowns or drills, but they are just preparing for events like [the shooting]. If other schools had the same precautions, it would be more controlled and less students would die.”