GILROY, Calif. (KGO) --Students and faculty at a normally quiet South Bay college are battling over whether to arm security guards on their 12,000 student campus. It took place on Wednesday at Gavilan College in Gilroy, but two other Bay Area community colleges are also considering having their campus security carry guns.
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"We want the discussion to happen a long time, not a week before they decide to vote," said second year student Adrian Lopez.
It's a short time frame. The college district's trustees are set to vote next Wednesday whether to hire an armed deputy sheriff to be on campus. The cost? $248,000 -- a figure an administrator doesn't dispute.
And now students and faculty are debating whether they want this. Connor Guinn is a 29-year-old student and a veteran.
"They're going to be the only deterrent if we have an active shooter on campus," he said. "They can make arrests."
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Jane Rekedal is the fine arts chair.
"It could be a target for someone, for an active shooter," she said. "That's a grave concern obviously, and we want to protect our community as best we can. I just don't know if this is the right plan for it."
Gavilan is normally a quiet campus, but the gazebo outside the student center has become the equivalent to London's Hyde Park; a venue for free speech.
Lopez is gauging sentiment, which is important in his role as the district's student trustee. He has an advisory vote.
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"I will be voting no on this item, and that is because our student senate has voted no, and right now we have a petition with over 350 signatures from students who are also opposed," he said.
No incident triggered the proposal to hire an armed deputy. Gavilan has had no recent sexual assaults or homicides.
The latest figures from 2014 indicate there was one aggravated assault, six burglaries, two drug violations, one liquor violation, and one weapons possession incident.
"Having law enforcement on campus will provide some safety that we don't have the ability to provide right now," said Gavilan College Public Information Director Jan Bernstein Chargin.