Doors Open to the Unexpected

With little regulation on the entrances to the school, Millard West hopes for the best


Photo provided by KMTV

Olivia Edwards, Staff Writer

Violence is something students are constantly exposed to whether it be in video games or in the news. It’s hard to say how much of an impact these factors can have on student life, but with the recent kick in school violence, the times are changing. There are 10 full sets of doors in this school that are completely accessible to students, but only one of these sets is encouraged to be used for safety purposes. People count on being let in from the unpredictable weather and prefer not to stand outside when the temperature is below freezing. It’s understandable to not to want to be cold or walk far in the snow.

However, the enrollment of Millard West is at a whopping 2,527 students for the 2018-2019 school year. Add to that number the 139 teachers that work at this school. Every time a side door is opened in this building, the safety of each and every one of the 2,666 people is compromised.

The main argument people present to this issue is that they don’t want to walk all the way around the building to come in the front door. A three to five minute walk around the building won’t kill anybody, but it’s ironic that opening a random door in the building could.

Millard West has five security guards on staff every day, and one SRO police officer for these 2,666 people. In the event of an unexpected visitor, there’s no predicting what could happen. There are only two guarded doors out of the 10 sets, meaning literally anybody could be let in a side door.

Acknowledging Millard’s kick for safety in the recent years, a doorbell has been established with a microphone and camera so the administration receptionists can find a reason for letting visitors inside. Because there are 2,527 students, the secretaries aren’t going to know everybody, and therefore anyone could claim to attend Millard West in order to be let in the building. In all actuality, there’s no need to claim to be a student when the receptionists will let in any sort of guest as long as they stop in the office.

If anybody leaves the school, say the large amount of juniors that sneak out for lunch and the school’s lack of ability to control this situation, nobody knows what they’re going to come back with. If someone comes inside with a brown paper bag claiming it’s their lunch, there’s no way of telling what’s really inside of the bag before the person is let in. According to CNN, 42% of people in the USA live in households with guns. Out of the 2,666 people that come in and out of the building on a daily basis (not including visitors), 1,120 possess a firearm at home. Looking around at the students at Millard West, there are some people that would simply function better without access to a gun.

If that statistic wasn’t scary enough, in December of 2018, Education Week declared that there were 24 school shootings in which someone was injured or killed. There were 35 deaths and 79 non-life threatening injuries. BBC took into account that the average school district has 180 classroom days, meaning there was a shooting for every 8 school days that passed.

According to Vox, 57% of teens worry a shooting could be a possibility at their school. This could be the future of our school. With the little regulation on who comes in and out of the building, we could be next. There’s nothing stopping it.

There are actions that can be taken, starting with the students, to improve safety. It’s normal to want to help someone and let them in the Green Mile doors so they don’t have to trudge all the way to the front in the snow. However, by walking away from the next person banging on the door, the future of our school is saved, along with the mental struggles that could arise in a traumatic incident like a shooting.

Our school would be safer in case of a crisis if there were more than one police officer on duty during the day. The ability of one SRO in the case of a shooting is minimal, yet our only hope until further officers could arrive. The time it takes an officer to arrive can vary depending on conditions such as snow, ice or traffic. Time is everything. Time could save lives. With only one armed guard, there’s only one person who can keep an unwanted visitor away from the students.

Punishments could be recognizable to get students to quit opening unsecured doors. There are signs on some of the entrances, but they don’t seem to be doing anything at all. Nothing will change if nothing happens. Some students don’t know that it’s not okay to open a side door for any reason. Even something as simple as small punishments could give kids insight into this issue that Millard West is facing.

Only two of the several doors here have the built in security system and camera. If the school was able to provide laptops for every high school student, then there should be room in the budget to install a microphone and camera at more entrances in the building.

Until the future of this country starts looking up, it seems like there are times where the only thing we can do is cross our fingers and hope nothing comes for us. This battle isn’t meant to be fought. As easy as it is to sit around and not take action, there are things Millard can do to prevent another repeat of the past. It’s awful to think something as little as a better security system or more SROs on duty could have saved our students, our future, our hope for change.