The “J” Agenda: The safety implications of not having phone service in the School Shooting Generation

Emma J Nelson, Opinion Editor

Generation Z is commonly referred to as the School Shooting Generation due to our continuous exposure to gun violence on school campuses. It would be inaccurate for me to state the total number of school shootings that took place in 2019, as the year is not yet over, and it is probable that the total will continue to rise, but within the first 46 weeks of the year, according to CNN, there were 45 shootings that took place on a school campus, nearly averaging one shooting a week.

The regularity of such a heart-breaking scenario is dire within itself, but it serves as a reminder that we as students face possible danger within our school buildings. Although the Tigard-Tualatin School District has recently made the decision to provide TuHS students with a guest WiFi service before and after school hours, Tualatin High School’s student body may still be at a disadvantage in the case of a crisis.

While it is not popular knowledge, the Bureau of Emergency Communications of Portland, Ore., has made it quite clear that if one is in a dangerous scenario in which they may not be able to place a phone call, they could easily text 911 and have the same access to emergency services. However, the TuHS campus’ lack of a school WiFi in a cell service deadzone makes this feat nearly impossible.

Furthermore, although we can count on our school’s office staff and security personnel to contact the authorities for us, we cannot depend on them to reach out to our families and friends. In my freshman year, TuHS experienced an active lockdown due to a situation occurring around Byrom Elementary School, and one of my first actions was to text my brother in order to ascertain whether or not he was in a “safe” position.

I knew there was nothing I could do for him, whether or not he was safe, but the knowledge that he was safe meant one fewer point of stress in the already-trying scenario.

Not only that, but I was able to text my parents and inform them of the situation at hand, and even message them a precautionary “I love you.” Despite the lockdown being resolved quickly, I am thankful I was able to send that goodbye. That is why it pains me so much that I could not do the same now.

It is cruel, being forced to imagine my parents waiting anxiously upon the possibility of an active shooter within our school’s walls, as they would likely not know of my health until my hopeful return home. It is cruel to both child and guardian to restrict the communication we have grown so used to in this generation of technology for “educational purposes” when we live in a day and age in which children face injury and death within buildings they are told are safe.

It is cruel, and our administration needs to fix it.