Students grapple with ‘Violence in School’

Students grapple with ‘Violence in School’

Students sitting listening to speaker

A little more than a month has passed since the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown Connecticut. Twenty-six people, 20 children and six staff members, were killed as the nation stood still on Dec. 14.

ASI Bronco Events and Activities Team (BEAT) helped facilitate a discussion about the issue by hosting “State of the Community, Violence in School” on Thursday, Jan. 24.

State of the Community
Topic: Violence in School
Date: Thursday, January 24
Speaker: Brett Scarpo
Attendance: approximately 85 people

The campus community gathered together ultimately for the same reason. They were all trying grapple with why violence occurs and how we can prevent it.

“It’s important to have various ideas. None of the people in that room all thought the same,”  Christine Hall, ASI Vice President, later said when reflecting on the event.

The event was all planned in only two weeks, but that didn’t seem to have an effect on the attendance. Approximately 85 people came to the Bronco Student Center (BSC) for the second State of the Community event of the academic year.

Guest speaker Brett Scarpo visited CPP to showcase his 1999 documentary “Journey to a Hate Free Millennium.”

ASI Secretary of Programs and Services Aisha Razzak said she was glad this State of the Community event was able to add a new aspect to the open forum.

“I like that the event was able to grow and evolve, not just with a discussion but also with a visual aspect as well so that people could really see the issues,” Aisha Razzak.

Before putting on a clip of the film, Scarpo reminded the audience that it is important to think about what each individual can do on a personal level to prevent violence. Every morning, Scarpo thinks about what he can do to make the world a little better.

“What can I do for myself and those that I love to try and make today better than yesterday?” -Brett Scarpo, speaker

Scarpo considers this to be his personal mantra and encouraged others in the audience to do the same.

Brett Scarpo addresses the room at "State of Our Community"

Brett Scarpo, director of “Journey to a Hate Free Millenium” asks students what they think could help prevent violent acts.

The documentary was focused not just on school violence specifically, but also how hate is often at the core of those types of situations.

It focused on the Columbine high school shooting, the death of Matthew Sheppard: a gay man who was beaten to death, and James Byrd Jr., an African American man killed in a hate crime.

“You’re not going to watch this. You’re going to feel it,” Scarpo said before screening the documentary.

The air in the room held a tense silence after viewing the video clip. Once Scarpo began asking the audience what their thoughts were, they began to talk with increased ease.

“We’re all trying to grapple with what to do,” Scarpo said.

There are so many issues encompassed in the topic of violence in schools that everyone had their own opinion to share. Gun control laws, mental health, hate crimes and public safety were brought into the fold.

The discussion intensified and people began to interrupt each other to the point that the panel chosen by Scarpo had little talking time. When people asked what interim lieutenant Bruce Wilson thought about preventing school violence, the room fell silent as he rose to his feet to share his thoughts.

“If we’ve gone wrong with anything it’s communication, folks,” Wilson said.

He made the point that it’s important to not focus on one issue too much, but to think about all the factors that could contribute to violence and different prevention efforts, to which Scarpo agreed.

There are a variety of resources available on campus that can help with communication, such as the Violence Prevention and Women’s Resource CenterCounseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Poly Cares.

The next State of the Community, focused AB 540 undocumented students, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 6 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Ursa Minor at the Bronco Student Center.

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