Tag Archives: security

Suffolk fails to make necessary advances to prevent mass shootings

Students at SCCC should be frightened. Not by exams, meal plans, or general college-induced stress, but by something much more severe. After recent high school shootings throughout the nation, including the one in Parkland, Florida, where 17 were killed, the fear of an active shooter has never been greater. It does not help with SCCC’s minimal effort to prevent such an occurrence.

SCCC is an open campus, which indicates that anyone, student or not, can set foot on campus without prior warning or security check-in. All of the buildings on the Ammerman Campus are kept unlocked as well, without central security through electronic locks. The school’s public safety officers are not armed and primarily hold the responsibility of calling the police in such an occurrence. In other words, public safety’s active shooter prevention protocol is not enough.

Shortly after the Parkland shooting, the president of SCCC, Shaun McKay, sent out an email on Feb. 26 to the student body addressing the issue.

“We have secured full staffing for our Public Safety force, we have purchased additional equipment, and we have provided strong leadership for our officers inclusive of adding an Assistant Director of Patrol Operations and leadership at the Captain level on each campus,” the email stated.

Regarding whether professors should carry firearms, McKay said, “personally, I do not see any reason to arm teachers — or professors– within an institution for higher learning.”

The public safety page of the SCCC website contains the basic run, hide, fight policy as its lone protocol in taking action for an active shooter. The policy advises students to call 911, and also provides instructions on what to do when police arrive.

In response to one of the most deadly mass shootings in American history, all SCCC did was supply additional unarmed security guards and strong leadership. Former police officer John Cerato says that just is not enough for a school that is open and withholds that many students.

“The amount of security they have at Suffolk is making me rethink sending my kids there,” Cerato says. “As a former cop, my job was to defend people and seeing that an entire institution can feel comfortable with the process they have right now is really disheartening.”

According to Newsday, school districts across Long Island have been progressively making additional security efforts after the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012. Schools have been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on things like highly trained security guards, security cameras, building monitoring services, and visitor restriction technologies.

SCCC has not taken the same steps as other schools across Long Island to protect staff and students in the event of a mass shooting. They have fallen behind on necessary technological advances and security efforts to avoid another heartbreaking story. As the upper executives pass it off as if they are taking the necessary steps, the school remains woefully unprepared.

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Students call for greater parking lot security

Photo: Parking Lot 8 is one of eight lots at the Ammerman campus where commuters jockey for space. Photo by Rich Olson

With a student population of more than 15,000, a few accidents every day are to be expected at the Ammerman campus, as students and faculty constantly compete for parking spaces.

But for some students, the lack of eyes in the sky is weighing down their pockets and leaving unsolved hit-and-runs.

In 2016, Temur Khan filed a report with the Ammerman campus Public Safety department after he noticed scratches and a dent on his car.

Khan, now 19 and a general studies major, asked to see camera footage to help catch the perpetrator but there wasn’t any footage. He was told that the college didn’t have cameras monitoring the student parking lots on campus.

Confused and angry, Khan asked why. He was told that the campus does not want to get involved with such incidents.

“That didn’t make any sense,” he said. “I was shocked that this was their policy.”

Several students sympathize with Khan’s frustration regarding the lack of cameras.

“I feel a little unsafe now,” said Chris Alger, who has been driving to school for three semesters and hopes things change soon.

“I’d be willing to pay a little more tuition if it meant my car was safer.”

The current cost of tuition for a full-time student is $2,435, according to the college’s website.

“If not cameras, more security should patrol the parking lots,” said Katiana Brescia, 20, who is finishing her last semester at SCCC but said she wanted better security for future students. She noted that extra security is important given that “a majority of the campus population are students.”

Director of Public Saftey Baycan Fideli did not return several attempts seeking comment.

Khan, who paid $600 to fix his car, says “it’s messed up” the college doesn’t want to deal with the parking lot security issue and he hopes things change soon. To push it forward, he’s calling on classmates to take a stand with him.

“I hope something is done before another student goes through what I did.”

Email scam targets SCCC students’ tuition refunds

An email phishing scam aiming to steal student tuition refunds has targeted SCCC students, according to a warning sent by the college’s Information Technology Services department earlier this month.

Rochelle Tharpe, a 20-year-old criminal justice major at SCCC, received the phishing scam email, which sought to trick students into entering their school account information, but fortunately did not fall for it. She said she the experience was nonetheless unnerving.

“It was from that moment on that I began to fear for my cybersecurity,” Tharpe said.

SCCC student, Rochelle Tharpe, showing the phishing email scam warning she received from Suffolk on Feb. 14. Photo courtesy of Paula Schultz.

“The email looked like it came directly from the Suffolk IT department. It states that you must enter your student email and password in order to have access to your tuition refund,” Tharpe said. “Thankfully, I was too busy and did not go through with entering my information. This whole mess made me question if student information is really that safe from cyber-crime.”

Tharpe said she received a warning from Suffolk information technology department before she fell for the scam.

On Feb. 2, students attending any SUNY institution were informed about a phishing scam that has targeted SUNY students through email. By Feb. 14, an updated email announcement informed Suffolk students the email scam had reached them.

Just how many students were affected is not yet known.

In the most recent email, students were instructed to delete the scam email and empty their trash folder.

The email that SCCC sent out to students, warning about the active phishing email scam. Photo courtesy of Paula Schultz.

“Phishing scams seem to have become a commonplace in educational institutions these days and they have increased over the last year or so,” Steve Rios, the educational technology specialist on the Ammerman campus,  said in an emailed statement. Rios has worked for the college for 28 years and is in charge of setting up and maintaining the classroom technologies.

“Most of the time it’s a group of people trying to scam users’ information for many different illegal reasons, like stealing money from someone’s bank account,” Rios stated. “Scammers send out hundreds and even thousands of emails to try to get someone to email their logon and password or other information that will allow the hackers to penetrate the user’s computer, work or home network, and or bank information.”

For cybersecurity concerns such as this, the Office of Information Security at Suffolk works to analyze trends in cybersecurity and keep student and school data protected. Information security officer Jason Fried makes it clear that protecting student information is an ongoing effort.

“We strive to continuously enhance our controls, policies, procedures, and training. The National Cybersecurity Alliance is one of many organizations that provide free training and materials that guide people through making good decisions about their online activity,” Fried said.

“I encourage students to review the Information Security Policies on the College Website …. Also, please regularly install security patches on your personal computers and mobile devices,” Fried advised.