The student news site of Bellarmine Preparatory School

The Bellarmine Prep Lion

The student news site of Bellarmine Preparatory School

The Bellarmine Prep Lion

The student news site of Bellarmine Preparatory School

The Bellarmine Prep Lion

Navigating Change: Bellarmine’s health and safety plan sparks controversy

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Bellarmine’s framework for campus safety. Photo courtesy of Safe and Sound Schools.

Implemented on February 15, Bellarmine established a new “Health and Safety Plan” for the overall well-being of the school. Excluding passing periods, doors to designated buildings (including Snyder and Bellarmine Hall) are locked during school hours. To move between buildings during class, students must be escorted by safety officers. In addition to new building changes, access control to the main parking lot began on February 22. The gate to this lot is closed throughout the entire school day. For students arriving late or with an early release, they must park in lot three by Allen Hall. The Counseling Office, ACE (Academic Center of Excellence), Campus Ministry, and Multicultural Center (when staffed) will remain open to students for full accessibility.

This change in policy came as a surprise to the entire student population, including those on the Student-Staff/Faculty Senate. Despite the Student-Staff/Faculty Senate seeking to “Facilitate communication between administration/faculty down to the students,” Student Senate President Sam Walker stated that the Senate did not have much involvement in this policy. 

“They only asked us about student attendance at the last meeting,” said Walker.

Outside of the gate policy, many students were confused about locking the doors during class periods. 

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“I already feel safe at school,” said senior Sam Daniel. 

When speaking to Bellarmine’s president, Dr. Kelly Goodsell, about the new changes, she emphasized the importance of this change being short-term. “It’s temporary for us to start to shift some behaviors and do some training. We just have to practice and understand what’s going to work for us. We’re going to learn a lot about behaviors.” According to Goodsell, implementing permanent safety features can be expensive and unwanted. “We need to learn because we’re not willing to make a big decision on the wrong key cards, or putting up fencing that we don’t like and never want. We’re not willing to do that without trying something that we can shift.”

Bellarmine’s current open campus layout leaves the campus vulnerable to crime. In fact, Tacoma is in the 13th percentile of cities for safety in the United States according to the City of Tacoma. Goodsell expressed her awareness and said, “I want our students to be spiritually free on campus. I want there to still be that sense of fluidity and freedom. Which means our internal processes, systems, personnel, and standard operating procedures have to be so strong.”

Goodsell continued to reassure the students and the school, “We [principal Cindy Davis] remain committed to student care and will do all that we can to work with students, faculty and staff to promote a healthy and safe environment on our campus.

Campus security will continue to evolve as students and faculty adapt to the new changes. There already has been trouble with students finding parking after the first bell, and navigating between the buildings during class in a timely manner. As the cherry blossoms bloom, responses to the new security measures will change as more students go outside for lunch, food days, and classes.

 

About the Contributors
Talia Patel, Executive Logistics Editor
Talia Patel is a senior for this year’s journalism class. She enjoys listening to music, going on short runs, and hiking. In school, she is a member of Lion Link Crew, Bellarmine’s Marine Chemistry program, and National Honor Society. She is excited to have a great year writing on The Hill!
Betty Roberts, Executive Broadcast Producer
Betty Roberts is ecstatic to be returning to the Lion Journalism Staff this year! Creating Broadcasts last year was a highlight of her junior year, and it will be a sweet escape from the pain and grind of senior year. She hopes to establish a solid foundation for future Lions to work upon and make their own. Around school, you can often find her working on her Marine Chemistry Project, National Honor Society, Pride Club, and Mind over Matter. Some of Roberts's accomplishments also include completing the “The Heist” escape room in record-breaking time with the RRC, as well as completing research on snails that do not exist. She looks forward to all of the articles and broadcasts made on the Hill this year!