By Samantha Cooper
On September 24, a woman escaped from the Baltimore County Department of Public Safety during an interrogation. An e2campus warning was sent to students to alert them of the situation. The warning included the woman’s description and warned that she could be on campus. Meanwhile, the skies of the campus were filled with the sound of helicopters whirring, searching for the suspect. She was eventually captured, and the noise and excitement died down. It remains unclear whether the woman ever stepped foot on campus grounds.
Goucher’s campus is open to the public and has several points of entry, which would make it an ideal place for someone who is running away from police to hide. Most of the points of entry are not guarded by Public Safety, and the main entrance only asks for IDs after 7:00 p.m. However, the incident was highly unusual and should not be regarded as the standard by which Public Safety should be judged.
Head of Public Safety David Heffer and Dean of Students Bryan Coker were contacted about the incident. Due to time constraints, neither was able to answer in time for this issue. However, their answers will published in an article in the next issue.
Students had mixed reactions to the incident. A survey was created on Google Sheets and distributed to the students via Facebook. Several students responded but only a select few allowed their names and responses to be published.
Michael Bay ’19 had a sense of humor about the situation. “It’s not often a campus has to handle such an odd situation,” he wrote. “I’d say that Goucher handled it pretty well. Guess we’ll have to wait for next time to see if there’s any room for improvement.”
Rachel Grosso ’18 was more concerned about the welfare of her peers. “I think a notification of the immediate situation would have been helpful as soon as helicopters began flying over campus, especially since many students walk, run and hike through the Goucher woods on a daily basis, particularly when the weather is pleasant,” she said.
In the e-mail sent out to students, there was no warning stating that they should stay out of the woods. There is currently no way to tell if there were students in the woods at that time, or if any of them witnessed the suspect. Students were not told to remain indoors and to keep their dorm rooms locked.
The e-mail also did not reveal anything about the suspect other than her appearance. Goucher community members were not told what she had been arrested for, if she was possibly dangerous or if she was armed. Many students surveyed would have liked more information about these questions.
“After the fact it would have been nice to know just what type of convict had been running around campus,” Bay wrote. “People get convicted for all kinds of crimes, like murder and petty theft.”
After the incident, Heffer did give students the chance to talk with him individually. No students who talked with Heffer answered the interview, so it is not clear who visited him or what they might have discussed.
Students who took the survey were also asked questions regarding concerns they had about Public Safety and how safe they felt on campus.
“I have concerns about how they handle incidents of sexual assault and going into rooms,” Marina Lant ’18 said. This is a sentiment that has been repeated many times. However, in a later discussion, she added, “But the new Director seems to be aware of these problems and is making progress.”
Teegan Macleod ’18 echoed a concern that reflected the aforementioned incident. He was concerned about the fact that “places around the perimeter like towards the track and by the woods…are very wide open to people sneaking on campus and also to people on campus committing crimes undetected.”
Grosso explained that there has not been much discussion on campus about campus safety.
“My concerns regarding campus safety mostly center around the protocol of a school shooting; how it is being prevented here, how it would be responded to if it were to happen, and the like,” she wrote. Grosso added that she was somewhat concerned about the number of thefts in the Athenaeum as well as about rape prevention and culture, which, as she pointed out, “has come a long way.”
In spite of these concerns, it appears as though some students feel safe on Goucher’s campus. Those who responded to the survey were asked to rate how safe they felt on a scale of one to five, with five ranking as very safe. Five out of the ten students who took the survey ranked the school as a four, and four of the students ranked the school as a five. One student ranked the school as a two. This indicates that, according to those interviewed, most of the students still feel safe to walk around Goucher’s campus without fear of being harmed. This survey, however, does not reflect the majority opinion at Goucher and therefore should not be viewed as such.