Lack of locks causes concern for faculty

Mark Young


With campus carry coming to Del Mar, the last thing any teacher wants is to not be able to quickly lock their door in an emergency. Fortunately, the college is nearly done installing new locks in many classrooms, which was proposed more than two years ago.

The problem lies with a previously large amount of locks on both DMC’s East and West campuses not being able to lock from the inside. This means that to securely lock the door, a person has to use a key from the outside.

With licensed concealed carry permit holders being able to bring handguns to DMC in the fall, some employees are worried there is an increased safety risk in terms of proper lockdowns and other safety procedures.

The problem was first brought up in October 2014 at a Faculty Council meeting by then member Paul Gottemoller, who in the report from the meeting motioned that “a method is needed to secure the classroom and office doors from the inside in case of a lockdown.”

“At the time we were going through active shooter trainings and I joked to one of my classes about how ridiculous it was that you couldn’t lock the door from the inside,” said Gottemoller, a government professor. “This isn’t ‘Halo,’ you don’t get multiple lives in real life.”

Citing safety issues, he was not the only to take a concern, as then chair of the board, Teresa Klein, a psychology professor, made it a top priority.

“The board unanimously voted in favor of proposing the locks be fixed,” said Klein, who then took it to President Mark Escamilla and Charles Miller, the superintendent of physical facilities, by November of 2014.

”I understand that some things at the college move slowly, but it’s an important topic because we can never know what might happen,” Klein said.

The locks were brought up approximately 10 times over the next two years with reports from the saying Sept. 4, 2015, meeting stating, “no council members could verify that locks are being changed so that they can be locked from inside rooms without using keys,” almost a year after it was proposed.

The college said the problem was largely tied to budgeting.

Miller said DMC ordered 700 of the locks at about $380 each. He said over $275,000 was spent on locks, including hiring outside contractors to install them. This money was not originally included in the budget, which added to the delays.

Luckily, the majority of the locks have already been installed, with about “70 left on East Campus and around 25 on West Campus,” according to Miller, who also said it was “realistic that they would be installed by August.”

Other safety improvements are also expected as the college moves forward with $139 million worth of construction approved by voters in 2014, according to Claudia Jackson with College Relations.

Some of these renovations and updates will be to enhance the safety of students at Del Mar, with departments working on alerts and updated procedures.

No matter how much the locks cost, there is no price for safety,” Gottemoller said. “I knew it was a safety problem and so did everyone else on the council and with the new gun laws, you can’t be too careful.”

Klein said the changes would make the staff fell more secure.

“God forbid we ever have something bad happen where we have to go into a lockdown, but say we do, not all of the adjunct faculty have keys to their rooms. If the locks don’t lock from the inside, they would be in serious danger. If a faculty member doesn’t have a key and the door opens toward the outside, then they can’t barricade the door and no one wants to be in that situation,” Klein said.

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