The District reinforces its commitment to physical safety following mass shootings and a growing national culture of threats, harassment and violence.

SAN MARCOS — Remaining steadfast regarding the health and safety of its students and employees, Palomar College will invest in a variety of safety improvements in what was announced this week as a “Summer of Safety” throughout the Palomar Community College District (PCCD or District).

From preparedness training to new safety infrastructure, the District has begun addressing “the new public security landscape” developing across the nation, with measures to be taken at the San Marcos campus and education centers in Escondido, Rancho Bernardo and Fallbrook.

“Like institutions of higher learning across the U.S., Palomar has started to fully re-populate its main campus and education centers following the COVID-19 pandemic—a process that has illuminated new challenges and new realities,” said Palomar’s Superintendent/President, Dr. Star Rivera-Lacey. “There’s nothing more urgently important than the safety of our students, faculty and staff.”

Dr. Rivera-Lacey spoke of her personal feelings on the topic of campus safety during a Governing Board meeting on Tuesday, June 7.

“This is the Summer of Safety—and it’s not just about words, it’s about action,” said Dr. Rivera-Lacey. “We’re going to make sure we’re doing everything humanly possible to provide a safe environment for our folks. The buck stops with me, and it’s something I take very seriously.”

She added a request that individuals with evidence of threats or harassment come forward to alert District administration immediately, as “we can’t respond to what we don’t know.”

The District demonstrated its commitment to safety throughout two and a half years of COVID-19 prevention and mitigation that kept the virus under control at Palomar. Dr. Rivera-Lacey pointed out that Palomar’s COVID-19 protocols were stricter than state and local requirements “because we were not taking any chances with the health and safety of our employees and students.”

“What our response to COVID-19 shows is that this District is absolutely committed to the safety of everyone who sets foot on Palomar College’s campus and education centers,” said Dr. Rivera-Lacey.

In response to the ongoing cultural instability and its impact on the well being of its students and employees, Dr. Rivera-Lacey reinforced the institution’s long standing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, antiracism and accessibility.

“We do not tolerate—and will fully investigate—unlawful threats made against our students, faculty or staff,” she added. “And we are taking every opportunity to guard our locations against the possibility of mass violence.”

Over the summer, the College will invest in safety improvements such as the installation of “panic buttons” in office locations across the main campus and education centers, and the addition of more security cameras in public locations.

The Summer of Safety also includes numerous mandatory training opportunities for District staff on lockdowns, evacuations, first aid and emergency response.

Dr. Rivera-Lacey emphasized that she considers the campaign an “all hands on deck” effort, involving numerous departments—from Campus Police to Information Systems—and that she anticipates full buy-in from the campus community.

“This College has proven, time and again, that it is committed to safe learning and working environments. I believe that everyone who works and teaches here wants it to remain a safe place,” she said. “This is our goal. This is the standard.”