AACC polls community


Photo by Britney Pieraldi

Dr. Dan Nataf surveys Anne Arundel County on local and national issues.

Tony Petro, Club News Editor

Anne Arundel County residents are as concerned about the rising cost of college tuition as they are about the nation’s ability to confront terrorism, an October survey by AACC’s Center for the Study of Local Issues revealed.

In the survey of 553 Anne Arundel County residents, 58 percent said they worry about the price of a college education. The same number ranked terrorism as their biggest worry.

CSLI Director Dr. Dan Nataf said the finding about tuition “has extra importance in the community college world, but coming from this survey I am impressed that college tuition was such a high concern.”

“Looking at the survey, I tend to highlight the rising drug and crime concern,” Nataf said. “Residents feel crime and drugs to be the most important problem in the last couple years.”

Survey respondents ranked runaway development as the most-important problem for the county, followed by the use and sale of illegal drugs; traffic congestions and transportation; and the economy.

Suliman Amarkhal, a freshman engineering student, agreed that crime and drugs are county-wide concerns, but ranked the cost of education as a priority.

“As a student, I have to pay a lot for college,” Suliman said. “Crime doesn’t affect me personally as much, but if that many people in our county feel crime is that big of an issue, then I don’t feel safe if crime is rising.”

Nataf said a question about which bathrooms transgender people may use in public schools was “very polarizing” in the survey. Poll participants were split evenly between supporting students’ use of the bathroom that matches the gender that the students identify with.

“The numbers show a real division in the participants’ level of agreement,” Nataf said. “Should the Board of Education treat transgender people based on the gender they identify with and not their birth gender? It’s a wedge issue.”

Another divisive issue involves Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to require public schools to wait until after Labor Day to open in the fall. Fifty-six percent of participants agreed with starting school after Labor Day, while 15 percent did not.

“I brought this idea into the survey a few years ago and the results have continued to rise in the ‘completely agree’ category,” Nataf said.

County residents also said they favor building another bridge to the Eastern Shore. In the survey, 44 percent said they want an additional bridge across the Chesapeake Bay, while 15 percent opposed the idea.

“These opinions could be based on the respondents’ feelings toward alleviating traffic on Route 50,” Nataf said. “In Truth, I should have worded this question differently. I wanted to know if participants want a completely new bridge or another span added to the Bay Bridge.”

The Center for the Study of Local Issues conducts a survey of Anne Arundel County residents twice a year, in March and October.