Many Berkeley High School students vividly remember when they first read about a bomb threat on BHS campus. Students were shocked to realize Berkeley Unified School District, along with the Berkeley Police Department, had been investigating the threat during the prior week, and members of BUSD had been told that the suspect “did not pose an immediate threat to the Berkeley High School community,” according to BUSD’s statement.
While it is vital that we as students demand transparency from our administration so that we feel safe in school, we have to understand that many administrative decisions are made because of information that students do not have access to.
The bomb threat was not the first incident that left BHS students shaken and seriously considering their safety at school. At the end of May 2022, a shooting involving a 17-year-old occurred at Civic Center Park around the corner from BHS just after school hours. The most frustrating part for many families was that they found out about the incident through Berkeleyside rather than the school administration.
Despite being a city-owned park, many BHS students spend their lunches and free time at Civic Center Park, and parents were worried that their kids weren’t safe attending school. According to STRIDE Survey, this isn’t uncommon throughout California schools, as “52 percent of parents or guardians with children enrolled in public school would prefer enrolling them in private school” due to concerns about their child’s safety at school.
Students felt unprepared throughout the school year when they were blindsided with news of safety concerns happening within their community. Students felt they weren’t getting enough news from their own administration, so they found further information through sources such as Berkeleyside and other local news. This detrimentally altered the level of trust between students and administrators.
At a school with over 3,200 students, every BHS student hopes that administrative choices are made with their safety and security in mind. And while we understand the risks of releasing incomplete information and potentially causing widespread panic, the lack of transparency at BHS heightened the lack of safety that students felt at their own school, to the point where some considered skipping school altogether in fear of their lives.
We can embrace this as an opportunity to create improvement in our school and make this year a safer experience for everyone. In this year, administration and students must work together to create the change they want to see at BHS.