By Monesha Stroman and K-Hari Townsend
Students at Oakland High School feel unsafe on campus. Outsiders easily made their way onto campus and right outside the gates during the first weeks of the 2013-2014 school year. Unfortunately, Oakland violence outside of school travels onto campus. To combat this, students and the school’s Attendance Compliance Officer are developing a plan called the “Code Switch Zone.”
The code switch zone will start with a drop box placed in the school office. The drop box will be the source that students use to contact administration with concerns about potential violence without actually speaking to them. Security guards and administrators will check the box every period, said Kaprice Wilson, Attendance Compliance Officer. It’s an anonymous way for students to contact administration without fear of peers attacking them.
“How do students expect security and administrators to keep them safe during and after school if they withhold information that could prevent outsiders from harming students on and off campus?” asked Wilson. “Students should never feel that they are in danger or a peer is in danger or in harm’s way knowing we have people that are here only for our safety.”
Oakland High administration wants to prevent anyone from making their way onto campus and harming innocent students and staff. The goal is to prevent a situation from happening like the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. This tragedy is one of many incidents of widespread violence at schools.
Although we haven’t had a massive shooting at OHS, we have encountered multiple incidents where shooting has taken place on our campus. In one case, in spring of 2012, a student was injured in a shooting outside of the OHS campus.
According to school officials and President Obama himself, safety at schools should be the main priority for everyone in communities.
“We can’t accept tragedies like this to become routine,” said President Obama in a speech to the parents and community of Newtown, Connecticut in the days after the shooting. He reminded them that they were not alone since, “our worlds, too, have been torn apart.”
While many of the administrators believe that the drop box is a safe solution to the school’s violence problems, the principal expressed some concerns.
“The drop box might be too risky for some students,” said Principal Matin Abdel-Qawi. Administrators are trying to make more of an anonymous way for students to contact them.
Still, many students support the idea of a code switch zone.
“The code switch zone is an excellent idea,” said Damarea Knox, a senior. “It’s keeping the school safe and not interfering with people’s education regardless of their life outside of school.”
Upcoming events will support and advertise this movement called the Code Switch Zone. OHS administrators hope it will start here and spread all through Oakland.