Some students woke up Sunday morning still shaken by the events of the previous night, during which an armed gunman wounded two USC students after a confrontation escalated at a party at West 37th Place and Catalina Street.
But when most reached for their phones, there was no Trojans Alert to be found, no email from the Dept. of Public Safety and no message of reassurance from the university.
It was only through the power of our connected generation and local news coverage that most of the USC community was informed of the incident. Finally, Monday afternoon, a crime alert was issued by DPS, nearly 36 hours after the incident had occurred.
Officials from DPS told the Daily Trojan the delay was a result of non-specific descriptions of the suspect and a focus on handling the situation before alerting the community.
Simply put, that’s not enough.
Student safety is and should be the top concern of DPS and the university, and by refusing to send any kind of alert to the community until 36 hours later does not live up to the edict.
More than anything, in the hours that followed the initial reporting on the incident early Sunday, the top concern among students was the lack of an alert from any university authority, be it DPS or otherwise. Just as in a shooting last year when no alert was issued, students deserved to know.
Yes, people recognized the possibility of Trojans Alert-induced panic and concern, but mostly they just wanted to know what DPS knew.
The Trojans Alert system should aim to give students the information they need to stay safe and in short order, regardless of lack of description or resources available. That information was sorely missed early Sunday morning. At the very least, the crime alert should have been sent out earlier even if it lacked some minor details.
There has always been an uneasy relationship between the USC community and the west side of campus, one the university was slow to recognize. The university recognized the need to add security to that side and responded accordingly by bolstering security presence last year.
When violence did rear its ugly head in the area, university officials once again had the chance to step up to the plate, but this time they didn’t follow through.