AACC students say they feel secure on campus


Photo by Sarah Noble

Students say they don’t worry about their safety on campus because of constant police patrols. Shown, Officer Duane Gottschalk.

Daniel Salomon, Digital Editor

Just weeks after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students at AACC said they don’t think it could happen here.

In an informal poll of 10 students, most said they feel the campus is safe because of constant patrols by campus Public Safety officers.

“I’m generally not too worried about [a shooting],” Luke Adams, a fourth-year transfer studies student, said. “It’s nice to see the security guards all over the place.”

According to Police Chief Sean Kapfhammer, if a shooting does happen here, the campus is prepared.

Kapfhammer said all employees on campus take active shooter training, which teaches them to run if they hear gunshots; how to hide in a classroom if a shooter is close; and how to disarm a shooter if one comes into a room.

AACC’s Department of Public Safety and Police posted an active shooter safety video at aacc.edu/campus-safety.

In addition, if an active shooter is on AACC’s campus, Public Safety calls all campus phones; sends texts and emails to all students; sends messages to all computers; and sounds a siren located at the top of the Truxal Library.

“If something occurs on campus … we are trained to make a direct entry and eliminate the threat, and in the unlikelihood [a shooting] should happen, that’s what we’re going to do,” Kapfhammer said.

And if a shooting were to occur on campus, AACC has resources in place to help cope with the aftermath.

AACC has three counselors on campus available to discuss any problem a student might have.

Students may visit a counselor up to three times for every one problem. Each session is about an hour long. Students can schedule appointments at 410-777-7111.

“It’s a safe space to come and process the emotions that you’re feeling and to process some of the confusion that you might be experiencing,” Diane Passero, a personal and career counselor, said.

According to nurse Loretta Lawson-Munsey, the Health Center has a “StressLess Room,” which has a massage chair, relaxing music and DVDs, and other chairs where students can take naps for up to 20 minutes.

“It doesn’t feel real,” Kim Tran, a first-year nursing student, said. “… You think [a shooting’s] not going to happen to you … but you never know.”

“I’ve never felt unsafe here, but you can’t really prepare for tragic situations like that,” Madelin Stiegman, a fourth-year nursing student, said. “There’s only so much you can do.”

Maryland law requires each local school system to develop and implement an annual schedule of drills for each school within the system.

In addition to fire drills, the state requires six others: evacuation, reverse evacuation, severe weather, shelter in place, drop, cover, and hold and lockdown.