Students weigh in on board’s security decision

Chris Simmons, second from left, addresses Ocken during the April 3 SAC meeting.

“What should DMACC do?”
Vice President of Academic Affairs Scott Ocken posed this question to students on April 3 at an Ankeny campus SAC meeting to gather input on how the school should improve its on campus security measures.
He told the room of about 20 students that DMACC administration is developing an improved security plan “up to and including armed security” which will return to the board, likely in fall 2019, for final approval before implementation.
“Our current plan is nothing is off the table for discussion,” he said.
Most students responded with concern about the likelihood of introducing armed personnel on campus and some opposed the measure entirely as well as the lack of soliciting student feedback on the issue.
“Why are we talking about this now and not before the board made the decision?” said Chris Simmons, who is a member of Iowa Student Action and President of the Rainbow Alliance.
Ocken said the legal standard of care is a main reason for DMACC’s actions which helps determine liability in the event of an incident. It was updated by the board after reviewing the standard set by lawsuits that followed previous mass shootings as well as security plans from comparable colleges. He apologized that “every student didn’t get a chance to voice their opinion” and encouraged the group to share their thoughts with the board.
“Everyone would prefer we didn’t do this,” Ocken said referencing the rise in violent acts at schools.
Anthropology major Saige Stratton is from Kalamazoo, Michigan and said she thinks preparing for a potential shooting with trainings like ALICE would be more effective than armed security. Ocken responded saying the board wants various trainings included in the security plan as well as armed officers.
The board’s decision states that armed personnel will be off-duty police officers and would only patrol exterior and entrance areas, but students wanted to know more about who would be armed on their campuses.
Jessie Bustin, a statistics major from Des Moines, asked how DMACC would handle the mandate of off-duty officers to report illegal activity on campus or information like immigration status.
Ocken said off-duty officers would need cause to request immigration status and oversight committees would monitor their actions on the job.
In response to questions about funding, Ocken said the price of adding armed officers would be covered by taxpayers, but costs for other security measures like adding mental health counselors “would hit the bottom line of the college and we would have to figure out how to pay for those.”

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