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New Public Safety Director brings hope

In the fall The Weekly printed an editorial listing concerns about the Office of Public Safety. Since then break-ins on campus have dropped, the keycard access system was implemented with success and wallet-sized cards with vital emergency contact information on them were distributed. We are pleased with the improvements and hope to see more.

We welcome new Public Safety director Michael Lopez, who has three decades of Bay Area law enforcement experience, and hope that he will help to expedite changes in areas that still need to be addressed. While gate security has improved, several students have witnessed people coming through the gate early in the morning without any noticeable Mills permits who were not asked to present their ID's, and no matter how many times we write about it, parking is worse than ever.

We're encouraged that he is already aware of these two issues and already brainstorming corrective measures with his department. To shorten the wait at the front gate while Public Safety officers check in visitors, Lopez' offered an easy fix by opening both lanes at the gate during busy hours. Hopefully this means that there will be an officer watching the second lane as well. It's also too easy to reuse the visitor parking permits – the date on the card isn't readable if it's shoved down on the dashboard. Visitors who get parking permits should return them to the front gate upon their departure from campus.

Reducing the parking stress must be made a priority, and a parking structure is the only plan that makes sense. In the meantime, there must be a temporary fix to alleviate the problem now. We understand that the construction workers need a place to park while they're working, but too many times there are cordoned off parking spaces with no work trucks in sight while 20 cars circle like vultures for a spot to open up. The last two weeks have been so rainy that the lot reserved behind Rothwell Center for the construction workers has gone empty but remained gated. When the lot is not in use by contractors it should be available for students to park in. It would be as easy as spray painting another piece of plywood that says "OK to park today," and placing it in front of the "construction parking only" sign.

Mills is long overdue for a comprehensive emergency plan. Lopez has several years of disaster planning under his belt and seems prepared to tackle these issues. The fire drill last week was the only time in recent memory there has been any sort of practice for a disaster and most students still have no idea what to do in the event of an earthquake. And one of the biggest campus safety issues has yet to be addressed at all – better (or any) lighting in parking lots and on walkways at night.

We encourage students to take advantage of Lopez' open door policy. He is willing to listen – we need to be willing to talk. Our safety shouldn't be all in his hands, we need to take some of the responsibility too. As Karen Maggio said in an article The Weekly printed last year about the arrival of Guardsmark on campus: "Any time you make a change, you have to give the change a chance.