Disaster averted? Or Disaster delayed? Planning for the inevitable at FLC —by Rebecca Mendell

Disaster averted? Or Disaster delayed? Planning for the inevitable at FLC.

By Rebecca Mendell, FLC Librarian

Over the years, many people at Folsom Lake College and its centers have come to me to share their stories, fears, and safety concerns. It is heartbreaking and upsetting to hear how frustrated, ignored, and alone they feel. Even though efforts have been made related to various safety incidents, individuals feel they have been left without real support in the midst of very real fear, stress and trauma. These safety concerns have been longstanding. Questions are raised frequently about how to lock classroom doors, what to do if we need to shelter-in-place, how to know which students are banned from campus, and many, many more. Yet, many of these questions are still unanswered. Despite trainings offered (and typically well-attended) and our best efforts to get uniform answers from the institution, potentially life-saving information doesn’t get to the people who need it. I care deeply about my colleagues, and it pains me to know they are hurting, worried and don’t feel assured that their safety is truly important to leadership, despite assurances that it is.

People often say that safety is a shared responsibility. However, safety is not well integrated into the planning processes for which we are all collectively responsible. In order to make safety a common, shared duty, faculty must have strong roles and responsibilities that are institutionally recognized and supported. FLC Academic Senate is currently considering recommending the creation of a College Safety Plan, which will give us the infrastructure through which we can make significant improvements to safety. Such a plan would facilitate a more systematic, integrated, and collaborative approach to safety. It would not supersede important operations and procedures already in place. It would provide a clear vision, mission, and goals for ensuring the safety of Folsom Lake College’s students, faculty, and staff, and community members who utilize our services and spaces. The plan might serve to accomplish the following:

  • Compliance with and support for the various safety plans, groups, legal requirements
  • Centralization of safety-related information, funding/equipment needs, and safety reporting
  • Compile reports on department safety concerns, issues, and facilities requests that are reflected in the annual department and unit plans
  • Include assessment, gap analysis, college-wide safety goals, and recommendations to ensure continual accountability and improvement
  • Gather data in meaningful ways, particularly to capture large information gaps previously unaddressed.

Faculty are also interested in the formation of a Faculty Safety Advisory group to the Academic Senate in order to address the unique safety needs of faculty. An advisory group can work on assessing faculty safety needs/concerns, developing in-depth surveys for faculty, and creating tools and recommendations that can be forwarded to the Academic Senate, the college Safety Committee, PAT, LRCFT and/or college leadership. Additionally, an advisory group might collaborate with LRPD and LRCFT on the creation of a faculty safety website and on providing more strategic offerings of safety trainings.

We cannot prevent the unthinkable from happening; however, we can know that we are taking care of each other through trust and cooperation every step of the way.