What happens when the safety of our school is compromised?

We cheer

Melody Cui and Gauri Manoj

A Snapchat story celebrates the bomb threat. Multiple stories like this filled our feeds throughout the day.

When Principal Ben Clausnitzer announced on the morning of Sept. 21 that the rest of the school day would be canceled due to a potential threat to our campus — which was later confirmed as a bomb threat — our fourth period class seemed to focus on the former more than the latter. With grins on our faces, we packed up our laptops, our conversations drowning out the rest of Clausnitzer’s announcement as we discussed our lunch plans and celebrated the exams we no longer had to take. 

Our reactions weren’t isolated — hundreds of students evacuated the campus with no sense of urgency, and multiple Instagram stories of students celebrating our day off filled our feeds throughout the day. 

These reactions were, to say the least, insensitive. Maybe we can justify them because we understood the threat wasn’t immediate and we knew our safety wasn’t really jeopardized. But ultimately, any fear we could’ve harbored was truly alleviated because we think that nothing to this degree could ever happen in Cupertino. 

Thankfully, that ended up being true, and we were fortunate enough for this threat to be just a threat. But in the chance that the threat was genuine, we have to realize that we would have been completely unprepared. And in the case this situation ever happens again and we choose to fall into the same cycle of apathy and ignorance, we would be putting all our lives at risk. 

As the student body, we should have prioritized the safety of ourselves and our peers until we got confirmation that the situation was cleared. We should have listened attentively to the administration and evacuated as soon as possible, rather than celebrating our evacuation — which was initiated to avoid a potentially dangerous crisis — as a day off.

However, our insensitive reactions during an unprecedented situation do not mean we are insensitive people — we are just too accustomed to the safety and ordinariness that comes with living in the Cupertino bubble. But, with it, we must recognize that other schools don’t have the privilege of immediately viewing these school threats as empty like we did. 

According to NBC, half of all bomb threats are targeted at schools; although they are less likely to actually be executed, the possibility is enough to cause emotional distress to those who believe that they could be executed.

Another — and the more pressing — threat of school shootings also comes to mind. According to the Washington Post, school shootings rose to a 20-year high during the 2021-2022 school year, with casualties resulting from a total of 93 shootings. Since the beginning of this school year, there have been three shootings that resulted in either injuries or casualties, the most recent one on Sept. 17 where two people were injured at a high school’s homecoming tailgate.

The gravity of these issues tend to slip our minds because of how far away they seem from us, but in other communities, the possibility of danger is at the forefront of every thought.  How can we claim to be advocates for these communities and victims of school violence if we are unable to take these threats seriously at our own school?

We live in a city where a bomb threat, or rather any threat, seems inconceivable, but as we cheer for our day off, we have to remember that students across the nation don’t have the same privilege of remaining apathetic like we do.


Update for 9/23/22: 

Principal Ben Clausnitzer announced again on Friday, Sept. 23 that school would be canceled due to another potential threat. For the second time this week, we found ourselves in a potentially dangerous situation — and for the second time this week, some of us reacted with apathy and celebratory remarks. 

These circumstances are unprecedented to all of us — students and staff alike — and trivializing the situation is not only insensitive, but has also become disruptive to those who are distressed and concerned for their safety. We’ve found solace in the perceived safety of Cupertino, but the schools that are victims of violence are often the schools that can never imagine this happening to them. 

As students, we have the responsibility to act seriously when placed in these situations, to act with urgency and remove ourselves from any potential danger. 

Until we’ve all safely evacuated campus, the BeReal can wait.