Feature

How Safe is Our Campus? – ‘March For Our Lives’ Article #1

As part of a special series of articles leading up the the March for Our Lives event on March 24th, the Mountaineer Post team has researched and talked to your peers, professors, and Schreiner’s staff to bring the information that may be of interest to you. Links to the other published articles in the series can web found at the end of each article. 

We also invite anyone who would like the voice their opinion on the issues surrounding gun policies, school safety, and the March for Our Lives event.

The first of this series focuses on our campus, Schreiner University. I conducted a soft poll the day after the Parkland shooting, to see if students and staff felt safe on campus and knew what to do in an emergency situation.

Most did not know exactly what to do, and some said they felt relatively safe but believed the campus was an open target.

I personally did not know what the security and safety measures on campus were to prevent or react to a situation like the Parkland tragedy, so I set out to learn more.

On our school’s website, I found out about the Student Assessment Team, a group of faculty and staff who respond to and work with students who witness a threat or pose a risk to the campus safety and themselves.

I spoke with two people on this team: Kim Woods, MA, LPC-S, Director of Counseling Services, and Officer Stacy Young, Assistant Director of Security.

Other members of the team and more information on SAT can be found here.

The SAT team meets once a week to discuss how to work together to address any concerns or issues on campus. Officer Young describes the team as “a real good group of people.” The resolutions made by the group are also brought regularly to President Charlie McCormick and Dr. Charles Hueber, Dean of Student Affairs.

“The program is built in a way that really covers a full scope,” Officer Young said. The main goal of the team is to identify risks, assess these, and address them respectively.

SAT takes all preventative measures first to help the campus be a safe environment.

Any at-risk student is provided professional help accordingly as one of many preventative measures. If counseling is determined the be the best way to guide a student away from dangerous tendencies or behaviors, then Dr. Kim Woods will schedule weekly visits with the student.

“Our center offers free sessions with all students, a service which can be costly at other universities. We also don’t limit the number of sessions. We schedule students mostly on a bi-weekly basis, but in cases of urgent need, we have weekly sessions with an at-risk student,” Dr. Woods said.

(It is also important to note that these sessions are protected with via HIPPA laws, and students don’t need insurance to schedule a session. The schedule is set about a week in advance, so Dr. Woods encourages students with non-emergencies to email her and set up an appointment: KJWoods@Schreiner.edu.)

“If a person comes in with negative tendencies we try to replace those with positive coping skills. That is getting the internal emotions to be expressed externally in a safe way, and it helps tremendously. I also try to encourage them to join different groups on campus, depending on their needs and interests,” Dr. Woods added.

Another form of professional service provided by the university is pastoral counseling via Campus Ministry. Reverend Gini Norris-Lane is the chairperson of SAT.  

“The counseling center and campus ministry work very closely with each other to try and make sure no students fall through the cracks. Sometimes if a student feels uncomfortable at first coming to counseling because of certain stigmas,  they might show up in campus ministry first. ” Dr Woods said.

After speaking to Dr. Woods for a while about student mental health and the resources for that, the interest in each student came across as sincere, and any student who comes into her department is sure to be received warmly and treated fairly despite any issues they may have, as big or small as they could be.

While the SAT team works to identify any risk, any person on campus could notice a risk and should speak out. However, they may not be sure who to talk to.

Students and faculty who decide to report a risk to campus safety may do so to any of the aforementioned staff members or any member of the SAT group. While Dr. Kim cannot share what is discussed in a session, she can help a student submit a report and always encourages them to do so.

Reports can also be taken anonymously at Campus Security, which is open around the clock and through the weekend.

“Since we work 24/7, we always have someone available to help students at any hour of the night. We can also call in people who have and will come in,” Officer Young said.

“While we investigate all reports, the student who submits the report may not hear anything back. It is to respect the privacy of all individuals involved,” Officer Young said.

From talking to Officer Young, any doubts or concerns about campus security were cleared away. It was obvious to me obvious that she and the other officers take the safety and needs of the students seriously.

“I give the freshmen class my personal cell number, and in case they don’t have it, they can also contact the officer on duty who will contact me. Especially in the case of female students, they may feel more comfortable speaking with me than a male officer, so I am always available,” Officer Young said.

Campus Security has been undergoing a lot of growth recently. While the preventative measures are a key in reducing the likelihood of an attack on campus, the need for preparation in an active emergency is also being addressed regularly.

“We have had lots of good changes recently, and lots of new training both with Homeland Security, Kerrville Police, and Kerrville Fire and EMS Departments,” Officer Young said.

The push for more training comes from the President’s office and Ed Wingard, Director of Campus Operations.

“Ed is awesome, he is ex-military, and he has been pushing for us to get this training. The more emergency response exercises we have, the better prepared we will be.” Officer Young said.

The University is also partnered with several response teams in the area, including SERT (Special Emergency Response Team) which is made of officers from the Kerrville, Fredericksburg, and other local police departments.  This team has come to campus to run emergency response drills across the spectrum of emergencies, from active shooter drills to fire emergencies.

“Our latest big drill was the Delaney Fire Emergency, in which we also tested the e2Campus notification system and our accountability procedures. We did really amazing working with the local response teams, and the building was cleared quickly,” Officer Young said.

(You can find out more and sign up for the e2campus program here.)

So while the University has been working on keeping our campus secure and safe since long before the Florida shooting, it is reassuring to know that we have excellent people who have vested themselves into that goal.

As students, we can breathe easy and focus on the reason we are here: to get a higher education and be prepared for the world that is waiting for us. And that is thanks to everyone mentioned in this article and also not mentioned who have dedicated time and resources to protecting our Schreiner Family.

So next time you see them, be sure and smile back, wave a greeting, or say, “Thank You.”

Special thanks to Dr. Kim Woods and Officer Stacy Young for taking time to provide insight for this article.

Article #2- Gun Reform: What Schreiner Thinks

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