Student petition at Evergreen seeks to boost firepower of campus police

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Students walking to classes to The Evergreen State College campus in Olympia.

OLYMPIA — On campus, police often blend into the background, like the trees that pepper the grounds of The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

But a group of students are concerned that campus police are not prepared to take the front line if an active shooter comes on site.

Omar, a student with Police Awareness and Student Safety, or PASS, asked, “ Would they respond with the proper tools and would they respond with the proper training? The answer is no.”

Omar’s group has begun circulating a petition for other students to sign that asks the school to provide police with high-powered rifles, shields and other equipment that the PASS group says would help stop a gunman, should one ever open fire on campus, and possibly reduce the number of casualties.

Robb Anthony, another student in PASS, said, “Frankly, not having the tools, the rifles, the training, and the staff to do the job jeopardizes the lives of all students here who are simply trying to get an education.”

Police at all other four-year public colleges in the state currently have that type of equipment.

Police at Evergreen asked for the rifles in 2009. The administration said no. Part of the reason was budget issues. But there was also a large number of students who protested against adding to the arsenal of police. Since that time, administrators say they have taken steps to make the campus safer.

“That means building the relationships with area law enforcement, making sure we’re training together with them so we have solid response,” said Jason Wettstein, a school spokesman.

The Evergreen State College Police Chief Ed Sorger said his officers are trained to respond to active shooters and engage them immediately to prevent casualties. Right now, they would do so with handguns.

When asked if he would like his officers to also have rifles and shields, he said, “Yes.”

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  • Greener

    It's outrageous that the administration hasn't given the police the equipment they need! They're pandering to a small vocal minority of students (mostly anarchists) and letting them decide safety of the entire campus!

    • MrNeedtoKnow

      What about helpless children don't they need the same protection. I thought the small vocal minority of people makes the majority comform to their ideologies. I see how you think. Hypocrites are those that are l1berals and hypp1es alike.

      How does it feel being comformed by your anarchist friends?

  • Student for 4 years

    No – the majority of our campus community is opposed to militarization of the police. The true threats to students on campus, including sexual violence, mental health support and rapists on campus, have yet to be adequately addressed by campus police or the administration. The police don't "need" high powered rifles and shields. The campus community, including faculty and staff, has been consistent on this issue – we don't want it and the police don't need it.

    • Greener

      What ideological nonsense. Did you even read the article? "Police at all other four-year public colleges in the state currently have that type of equipment."
      It's a law enforcement standard. Just because a few students (SDS people as shown in the video) are opposed to the existence of law enforcement, the state, and laws in general, doesn't give them the right to jeopardize everyone else's safety!
      Evergreen is not your personal anarchist utopia. Its a STATE college. Thus it should observe certain safety standards that all other state colleges do. It's common sense.

      • MrNeedtoKnow

        United States needs no police, no military we are all safe, no business just grow marijuana. Please keep smoking some more marijuana. According to l1berals and h1ppies marijuana is safe and doesn't alter your mind and DNA.

      • Fellow greener

        I agreeeeeeee! Since our school is so non conformist I feel like we need the protection. This Mr. need to know fellow is retard!!!!!!!!!

    • MrNeedtoKnow

      That is called censorship, I mean freedom of speech, I mean censorship! urgh freedom of speech. Duh! get with the l1beral and h1ppy state of mind. You have to comform to their ideologies.

  • Robert

    "Police at Evergreen asked for the rifles in 2009. The administration said no. Part of the reason was budget issues. But there was also a large number of students who protested against adding to the arsenal of police."

    I went to Evergreen from 2006 to 2011. In 2009 students were absolutely FURIOUS that the administration even proposed rifles for police. I remember being stopped several times by groups of protesters and getting lectures from them implying that the police would essentially be hunting students if they had these rifles. "We let the tasers get by us. We let the handguns get by us. Let's NOT let the rifles get by us too" they used to say.

    This is THE most hypocritical thing I've ever heard from Evergreen students. Evergreen probably would have been able to afford the proper equipment and training back in 2009 but they didn't purchase it because of the overwhelming student opposition.

  • MrNeedtoKnow

    LIberal Hippies hypocricy at their best. First they hate the military, love the ban on guns, and they think they are saints and still want armed guards. What about public schools (K-12). Ohh! No! That is crazy!!Children best defense is to eliminate guns, but the hippies cry for more protection.

  • NoJusticeNoPeace

    I just don't understand the "need" for more guns at Evergreen. I don't feel that rifles are necessary on campus, what purpose would they serve? How appropriate that it took two shootings in the past year to make this rifles debate come up again, I must say. But playing into the fear and getting guns is not the way to make people feel safe in our community.

    • 3rd-yr Student, TESC

      I agree. The police on campus are already trained in accuracy with the semi-automatic guns they already have. Why do they need automatics? What is stopping them with their current weapons and training from stopping an active shooter? Why do they need to match automatic fire with automatic fire, when they are trained not only in accuracy but in tactics?

      • Excelcior

        I'm hoping your questions aren't rhetorical, so I'll try to answer: the measure of a gun's effectiveness in this case is not in whether or not it is "automatic", but its configuration. A pistol is only effective a very short distance, and would be completely useless against a person in, say, the clock tower. The only tactic available to a severely under-equipped police at that point is to hide or take suicidal action. I hate to take it to a dark place like that, but frankly this recent rash of violence has taken us there already. So I'm just keeping it real. That being said, I can fully understand a person's fear of an armed person (even or especially police) walking around campus. The plain truth, however, is that if for some sick reason a cop shot some poor kid, they wouldn't be using a rifle, they'd be using their pistol, which they already carry. So in my estimation, the question shouldn't be whether they should be allowed to have a rifle, but rather should they be allowed to have a gun at all. I personally think they should, but regardless it's foolish to have police have less gun rights than a civilian (because civilians are and should be allowed to own rifles) who has gone berserk. Just my $.02 and some info.

          • Anonymous

            the cops don’t “have less gun rights.” at its core, the issue is regarding equipment used by PUBLIC EMPLOYEES. also, for future reference – because you seem like a reasonable person – the way you framed that particular sentence causes the rest of your paragraph to reek of intellectual dishonesty. nothing personal.


    MrNeedToKnow is an idiot. The school has almost 5,000 students. There is not one single opinion for every issue. The people on campus demanding that campus police have rifles are DIFFERENT PEOPLE than those who are demanding that campus police do not. How anyone could conflate those two opinions when they are diametrically opposed is beyond me.

    Damn those h1ppies and l1berals!

  • Educate

    I noticed that everytime someone asks why they need it, its followed with a debate about how accurate a hand gun is and it should be sufficient to a rifle/shotgun wielding shooter. they really have no experience with guns what so ever. Maybe in the movies that situation would work in the officers favor because they magically would have the nunchuck and handgun skills to fight a rifle/shotgun. Its' a r question that shows lack of knowledge. It is sad to see that they insist on no other option, as they remain uneducated on the issue, but when something happens that would have needed the other guns everyone will scream fowl once they learned the reasons.

  • Sandrine

    I love how the protester frames school shootings as "theoretical" events even though people have brought guns on campus at Evergreen in the past that led to at least two armed robberies and a murder. Then he goes on to say that he doesn't trust police with the guns they already have even though there haven't been any instances of gun violence perpetrated by the campus police. He twists the reality of the situation to make it seem like gun violence is more likely–and already underway–from the police than from the students and community, but that is simply untrue.