MSU Shooting Leaves BCC Students and Staff Questioning Safety On Campus

Journalism 201, Staff Writers

“We’re losing the ability to feel safe anywhere,” said Ed Johnson, Brookdale’s executive director of Government Affairs & Community Relations. “I can remember a time where it would be an impossible thing to think that you could be in a church or anywhere and something like this could happen.” 

Michigan State University suffered a mass shooting incident on Monday, Feb. 13, where three students were killed and five remained in critical condition on Wednesday morning. 70 mass shooting incidents have occurred in the US since the new year. 

“I think about the possibility every time I come to school. Now it makes me on edge. I look behind me whenever I hear someone walking,” said Britney Jones, a 32-year-old nursing student from North Middletown. “I have a son, and I think about him in a classroom or what he would do if a stranger came up to him. I’m more worried for him than myself.”

“I feel like the days in school after another big story comes out are always a little eerie because you never know what could happen,” said James Grande, a 19-year-old finance major from Manalapan. “To be honest I don’t really think about it often, but the situation itself is always in the back of my head whenever I’m in class or something.”

“I feel like there’s so many shootings.” said Daria Bartolomeo, a 20-year old dental hygiene major from Keansburg, “They’re everywhere and it’s only getting worse.”

Brookdale students and faculty said they weren’t surprised to hear the news of yet another school shooting. Several students referred to the event as a piece of “everyday news in today’s world.” Some people refused to make statements about the shooting; others didn’t hesitate to share their opinions.

“I have been in schools that have had shooter threats,” said Sevda Sadik, an adjunct professor at Brookdale who has been in that situation. “An unfortunate acceptance is dealing with shooting threats while working in education.”

“Personally, it’s something I think about at least once a week.” said Jake Farwell, a 20-year-old business major from Hazlet, “You see on the news it seems like every other month there’s a new mass shooting that happens at school, so it’s kind of hard to not think about it you know? It’s always good to be on high alert.” 

“Surprised isn’t really the word I’d use just because of how often they happen,” said Francesco Amato, a 20-year-old engineering major from Freehold. “You never want to see anyone have to go through that moment, even if they’re strangers to you.” 

“We have to prepare ourselves, and yes, we have to be vigilant, but at the same time we have to look back at the core as to what conditions exacerbate or lend themselves to that tea kettle boiling. What are the services we could put in place that are necessary? This isn’t a pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of thing… It’s more than that,” Johnson said. “How do we recognize when the tea kettle starts to heat up?”

“When do we have the services to provide support for our members of our community, for students and the people who need it? I have never yet heard people say we don’t have money to go to war. I’ve heard people say we don’t have funding for mental health services, support services, housing. We need to reexamine our priorities as a society,” Johnson said. 

Other students felt differently about their safety on campus.

“Every day it’s something. But I’m always sad to hear about it, and I just hope I’m never in that situation,” said Shay Hoff, a 20-year-old computer science major from Keansburg. “I feel safe at Brookdale because of the police station we have right here on campus,” Hoff said.

“I feel pretty safe,” Arianna Guerrero, a 19-year-old nursing student from Hazlet said. “We just have to be aware.”

Not even Brookdale’s junior police are permitted to hold weaponry; even those in uniform. 

Weapons of any kind are banned on Brookdale’s Campus, according to section 2.1000R in Brookdale’s code of conduct. “Possession of, carrying, or using firearms, including rifles, shotguns, pistols, ammunition, explosives, or other dangerous weapons, instruments, or substances in or on College premises, or at functions sponsored by the College, except as hereinafter provided for law enforcement officers”. 

“It’s a sad reality we have to deal with,” said Lisa Hailey, a 61-year-old technology professor. “I think things like broken lights and how the president is working with the sheriff’s department to increase police presence is helpful, but things are always broken around here, that can’t be safe.”