Tag Archives: community college

Dean Lundburg: Drills, communication top priorities for campus safety

Recent events such as the threat of an active shooter on campus last fall and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have inspired changes to handle emergencies at the SCCC Ammerman campus.

I sat down with Executive Dean Wesley Lundburg to find out more.

Lundburg, a former Coast Guardsman, said he is taking what he learned during his service to help this campus. He said a big focus would be drilling.

“When you have drilling, you have muscle memory. You can’t have people rely on a placard on the side of the doorway, that they go to and say, ‘Oh, what am I supposed to do?’” Lundburg said. “You need to get them to a place where they just automatically know what to do.”

Talks of change have been happening since an Oct. 30 incident in which an active shooter was thought to be on campus. It was quickly found that the student was carrying two toys guns as part of a Halloween costume. But the recent Parkland shooting has lit the fire.

The administration has brought Associative Dean Dave Bergan from the Eastern campus on board to help with the plans for change.

On March 13, a Professional Development Day was scheduled, during which faculty staff would receive emergency preparedness training. That was canceled due to inclement weather and has been rescheduled for April 6.

Lundburg said the Oct. 30 incident was a huge learning experience for the campus. The college was able to pinpoint exactly what needs to be improved. The biggest component is communication, he said.

As for current campus-wide communication, a PA system is in place throughout the hallways of the buildings on campus. NY Alert, a statewide emergency alert and notification system that the college uses to alert students in the event of an emergency, is a big part of that. There is an effort to switch over to Shark Alerts, a similar program that’s focused on SCCC.

The current PA system used on Oct. 30 sends out alerts in two parts. A lack of communication caused only half of the system to send out an alert to the campus of the threat. The system operator who was told to send out the alert sent it to the first half of the system and then was told not to send the alert because police were already on the way.

Because of the lack of proper communication, only half the campus was alerted that there was an emergency.

Currently, public safety is pricing out options for a PA system that will be outdoors. Speakers outside will be able to reach more people in the event of an emergency.  Lundburg is not sure how much that would cost.

The change will not be happening overnight, but the ball is rolling for an improvement of safety at the Ammerman campus.

“There hasn’t been resistance… it’s just there are a lot of priorities and things get kind of shoved aside,” Lundburg said.

Balancing college, work, family … argh!

Photo: Steven Gerasamovich former SCCC baseball team captain and pitcher, who found balancing school work and other responsibilities a real tough order. But he continues to study hard. Photo by Courtney Nigro

Some may think being a student at a community college like Suffolk is easier than going away to a four-year college or university. But attending a commuter school often brings on more responsibilities for students.

Many students who attend SCCC not only have to study, but also work at least one job. Between work, school, family, a social life, and whatever else students are involved in, it can be a lot to balance.

Steven Gerasimovich, 20, a liberal arts major, was a pitcher on the baseball team for the maximum of two years until 2017. While on the team, Gerasimovich had to take 12 credits a semester, so he was going to school full time,  playing baseball and working part-time at Planet Fitness in Centereach.

“There were definitely some nights where I was up past midnight doing homework because I didn’t have time during to get my work done, but in the end, I got everything done on time,” Gerasimovich said.

Julia Riggs, 18, an engineering major,  who works full time at Pandora in the Smith Haven Mall said he work and school schedules were particularly hectic .

“My manager was usually understanding of my school work — my professors didn’t seem to care, which was OK with me. I knew what I was getting myself into and what was expected of me at school,” Riggs said.

When by students how much they should spend studying, adjunct business professor Rob Ferrara said, “At least the same amount of time spent in class should be spent out of class if you want to do well.”

When he was playing baseball, Gerasimovich only worked on the weekends, and his Planet Fitness managers would schedule him for 6-9 a.m. so he could be out and make it to practice or a baseball game on time. His days started with an 8 a.m. class and were fully scheduled until 6 pm. He found time to study between his classes. There was also the added pressure of keeping his grades up to keep his spot on the team.

“I think school would have definitely been easier if I didn’t have a job, but I try not to let outside things affect my schooling,” Gerasimovich said.

Riggs is a full-time student who needed to work to pay for tuition.

“I didn’t have the option of only going to school and focusing my time on that,” she said.

Working 40-plus hour weeks, she found time to study on her breaks at work. After her 12-hour shifts that ended around midnight, she would try and study but found it hard to retain anything.

“If I didn’t have to work, I would be able to stay on top of my school work and feel like I actually had a life,” she said.