Tuesday March 8, The Merced Sun-Star released an article titled “Gray introduces bill to beef up UC Merced security” referring to District Assemblyman Adam Gray’s bill to update UC Merced’s safety measures to the same standards found at other UCs. Students caught wind of this, and reacted according to content proposed in the title, but only some of the content within the article.
The language the title used and the idea it proposed were misleading to some students and ASUCM members, causing a wildfire on the UCM Classifieds Facebook page where the article was linked. There was an outcry in the student’s comments, stating that an increase in security will only cause more problems and stigma relating to the Nov. 4th on-campus stabbing. However, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Safety and Chief of Police Albert Vasquez helped dissipate the confusion of what was said and clarify what the proposal was and how the bill would be used.
“I met with ASUCM, and there was some misinformation,” stated Officer Vasquez. “This bill is a onetime ask, not asking for guns or SWAT cars. We’re asking for things that are safety. Some people tend to associate safety with security, hence why there was cause for concern that there would be an increase in that aspect.” As the Assistant Vice Chancellor in Campus Safety, Vasquez oversees the safety of the school with respect to the quality of available emergency resources alongside security measures.
Security is only one aspect of safety. Vasquez checks regularly to make sure that the labs meet standards in order to ensure that they continue to be a safe environment. He also makes sure that fire safety standards are up-to-date in certain areas on campus and ensures the rest of the campus follows suit.
“Honestly, we are under-resourced, but it’s probably because [these resources] were overlooked,” Vasquez analyzed. “We could use more things to provide safety to make the campus safer.”
An example he provided was: imagine if a student that cannot swim fell into the river. A safety measure that would be added would be the instillation of a mesh line or netting that the student could grab onto, in order to pull themselves out, or that another person could use to aid the drowning student.
Other resources that would be acquired thanks to this bill would be AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) and Evacu-chairs. The AEDs will help provide portable defibrillators for immediate medical assistance until help can arrive. Evacu-chairs are required for buildings with more than one floor and help in transferring a person out or evacuating with the aid of just one other person, rather than five.
“If we get it, it’ll go into every building,” said Officer Vasquez with a grin. “If we get it, it’s very exciting. We will be at the level of our sister campuses!” The bill Gray proposed will also provide more external security in Merced County such as helping custody officers become deputies though the main objective is to provide the school with the safety resources it needs.
“I wouldn’t want to have my daughter here if I didn’t think it was safe. To me, it is safe,” closed Vasquez.
Sun-Star’s “Gray introduces Bill…”: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/local/education/uc-merced/article64885152.html
Photo Credit: Anjeliko San Mateo