AFT's Weingarten: "Budget cuts have left just three counselors for about 18,000 students on the campus, exposing a systemic failure to adequately protect students and faculty."
WASHINGTON—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the stabbing incident on the Cypress-Fairbanks campus of Lone Star College in Texas:
"Our prayers are with the victims of yesterday's stabbing rampage on the Lone Star College Cypress-Fairbanks campus. While we can't prevent all senseless acts of violence, there are commonsense measures that can and must be taken to protect students and faculty. Budget cuts have left just three counselors for about 18,000 students on the campus, exposing a systemic failure to adequately protect students and faculty. The campus opened in 2003 with 6,000 students and seven counselors.
"Access to adequate mental health services in schools—K-12 and higher education—is imperative to get students the help they need and to protect others. We shouldn't expect academic counselors to substitute for laid-off trained mental health counselors, as Lone Star College does. An important component of school safety is not just commonsense gun control measures but sufficient mental health services.
"The stabbings on the Lone Star campus also exposed failures of its emergency alert system, even though Lone Star had been shaken by a shooting incident on a different campus three months earlier and the Newtown, Conn., rampage had happened nearly four months before. Because the system failed to notify everyone on campus of the danger, many faculty and staff stepped in to help, including alerting classes to lock their doors. After the earlier Lone Star shooting, AFT Lone Star addressed the college's board of trustees about safety measures that should be considered. It is a shame the college didn't implement the suggestions or embrace the union's participation in its decision-making process."