Students speak up about safety on and off campus

(THE PICKET)—Despite the mass shootings on college campuses, Shepherd University students said they feel quite safe on campus and in Shepherdstown.

“I have been here at Shepherd University for the past four years, and during that time I believe six mass shootings have occurred and not once have I questioned my safety here at Shepherd,” said Noreen Green, senior at Shepherd University. “I’m not saying that it is impossible for something like that to occur here, but I just have faith in our student body that everybody is treating each other with love and respect and letting one another know that they’re there for them if they need anything. Also, I have faith in our campus police department and our town police department, which is just a hop and skip away from campus to protect us in a time of crisis.”

Since Shepherdstown is such a close, small community, violent acts, let alone massive acts of violence, are not something that people expect can happen here.

“I never really gave it much thought,” said James Ewell, a third year student at Shepherd. “It does cross my mind when an event like what happened in Oregon occurs. I hope it doesn’t happen here, but then I just keep it moving trying not to think about it too much to the point I’m scared to come to school. I never really thought about if I were safe here at school; I sure would hope so.”

For some people, it does cross their mind; it doesn’t prevent them from taking care of business here at school and accomplishing their goals, though.

“No, I don’t feel safe here when pertaining to an event such as an active school shooter. It’s not that I feel the school is not doing their job but because it is such an unpredictable situation that I feel can’t be adequately prepared for,” said Micah Johnson, a graduate assistant for multicultural student affairs.

Lance Wines, a third year student at Shepherd, said that with all the money this particular area of West Virginia invests in law enforcement and public safety there is no need not to feel safe.

“The culture here in Shepherdstown is a lot different than most areas, especially in the West Coast. This is a tight knit community where if you see something wrong you report it or take action. So, do I personally feel safe here? Yes, because I keep in mind with me being white or “Caucasian,” historically in society law enforcement will respond quicker to my aid, and what does Shepherd University mostly consist of…”

For some people, it’s not the local town law enforcement or the campus police that makes them feel safe; it’s the fact that Shepherdstown reminds them of the safe small town in which they grew up.

“Yes, I feel safe here at the university and in Shepherdstown period because I’ve never seen this area as dangerous. Being that I’m not too far from this area, it still has that safe type of feel as my hometown does … some girls may come off as, ‘Oh I’m scared,’ but I don’t ever feel that way. I don’t let fear control my life,” said Victoria Keys, a third year Shepherd University student.

Da’shawn Long is a staff writer for The Picket. He can be reached at or followed on Instagram @sirswave

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