The Harbinger Online

Always Watching

As I strolled down the south ramp on a quiet Monday afternoon, I felt a newfound feeling of safety. Previously, my nightmares were filled with recurring scenes of slipping on a dropped smoothie or coming across a stray student eating lunch. I would walk down the treacherous slope, terrified at the thought that maybe today would be the day an intruder would come in and murder me right in this very spot.Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 10.48.41 AM

Said no one. Ever.

This is not how students view the new cameras. The fact that our administration genuinely thinks that students will feel safer with a shiny new security system and a pile of cameras shows their unfortunate misdirection. At first glance it does make sense to increase security with the threat of school shootings becoming more and more apparent.

But unfortunately, according to The Associated Press, the statistics surrounding school shootings haven’t changed since the 90’s. If someone was to, say, shoot up a school, the amount of surveillance wouldn’t matter at all. If a person’s mission is mass murder, being caught on tape probably isn’t even a thought. The cameras don’t stream anywhere other than inside the school, and by the time a shooter was spotted it would probably be too late. This is where the problem lies. Studies have shown that increased security isn’t working. So why are we doing it? This new measure just doesn’t feel like it is being done for student safety.

To me, it feels like a way to  it is being done to keep students in check. The veil of “safety” feels thin as I walk down the halls with a camera on me everywhere I go. In their minds, the administration is trying to help. They aren’t going about this trying to suppress students or lock them in boxes, but that’s what is happening.

But why now? Nothing traumatic has occurred lately. And while the motto of “proactivity not reactivity” does stand true, we haven’t had any students die on their way back from lunch or as they run inside to grab a forgotten lunchbox after school is out. And I highly doubt we will in the future. There haven’t been any late-night burglaries or extreme vandalism. And even when there were incidents of students breaking in through the roof, punishment was merely a Friday school, something you could get for leaving a tray in the band hallway.

It’s the source of the problem that needs to be dealt with, not the symptoms, and I don’t think that is something schools themselves are able to do. Whether it is increased funding into mental health care or a change in gun laws, something needs to be done. It’s shown by the continued school shootings that security isn’t the answer, so why do we keep trying that method?

Today, I walk down the halls hearing students discuss the ridiculousness of the cameras and listen as teachers crack jokes about them in my classes. We’re left mocking the administration’s attempts at improving safety, assuming that is their goal, instead of actually feeling comfortable in their school.

The cameras make me feel more uneasy than safe and I know I am not alone in this. As someone who often spends 10 hour, six day weeks here, I feel uncomfortable with the idea of someone watching me as I work in Little Theatre or the lighting crew “Bat Cave.” It doesn’t hurt me, nor will it affect any of my choices of what I do, but it does make me feel uneasy in the environments I consider my home. I shouldn’t feel like I am in prison in my learning environment, but I do.

I think many are left with questions. Why can’t we just punish those who break the rules, instead of spending more money to watch over an entire student body? With all the budget cuts, why is money being funneled into an abundance of cameras? Why are so many cameras pointed at the same door? I know these questions may not be answered, but they are something we need to think about.

Until then, I’ll find peace in knowing that students will no longer be in grave danger while entering or leaving the the building unmonitored. Shawnee Mission East is just another big brother to watch my back as I stroll through the halls.

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Leah O'Connor

Leah O'Connor is currently a senior and is the Webmaster for the Harbinger Online. Along with journalism, Leah is also very active in the SME Theatre Department. She mostly works on the technical side, but also enjoys acting. Read Full »

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