A climate for caution
Fort Hood. Sandy Hook Elementary School. Washington Naval Yard. An Aurora, Colo., movie theater. The Boston Marathon.
We have had no shortage in recent years of tragic incidents in which someone visits death upon innocents in public places or at public events.
Given that context, it is no wonder Duke University, N. C. Central University and Durham Public Schools are adding a layer of security to high school graduations. This spring, anyone attending the graduations – held on the universities’ campuses – will need an admission ticket.
Officials stressed no incident or specific threat prompted the policy, which the universities requested, but rather the litany of other events around the country.
“That was not spurred by anything that happened at one of our events,” Jim Key, the school district’s area superintendent for high schools, told The Herald-Sun’s Greg Childress. “We live in a world today where there are security concerns wherever large groups of people gather.”
Unlike some school districts where the size of a venue requires limiting graduation attendance, DPS doesn’t face that problem. Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke and McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium have easily accommodated the crowd for commencement ceremonies.
Officials have stressed they will make as many tickets available as a student needs for his or her family and friends to attend. Each student will get an initial allotment of 10 tickets, but seniors who need more are urged to ask the graduation coordinator or principal. “We’re going to accommodate all our families,” Key said.
We do find it a bit puzzling the universities have requested a level of security for the high school graduations that they don’t anticipate for their own ceremonies next month. Neither Duke nor NCCU requires ticket for admission to their graduations.
Ironically, the story about the new policy appeared on the front page of this newspaper Thursday adjacent to another that speaks to the country’s violence. While not all the tragedies have involved guns, most have. And local elected officials Wednesday joined others around the nation in reiterating the persistent, important and lately futile demands for tighter control of handguns.
“We’ve been advocating for reasonable gun laws to be passed by the United States Congress,” Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said at a press conference. “We haven’t been heard.”
The event coincided with others around the country on behalf of a new group, Everytown for Gun Safety, that is heavily underwritten by Michael Bloomberg, New York’s wealthy former mayor.
Their efforts will be aimed in part at supporting candidates who, as Durham City Councilman Eddie Davis put it, “want to do things to restrict the presence of guns in our everyday life.”
The availability of guns is only one factor, of course, in our too-frequent incidents of mass violence. All in all, an excess of caution for graduation is better than too little.
As school board Chairwoman Heidi Carter said, “It just boils down to the climate in which we live…”