Students at Texas State Technical College might be some of the most protected people in the world.
Because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI have been using the campus as a command post during the Branch Davidian siege, there are law enforcement officers almost everywhere students and faculty look.
“We probably have the safest campus in the United States,” said Linda Koepf, library director for the campus.
In addition to the FBI, the ATF, the Texas Rangers and Department of Public Safety troopers have been constantly on campus since the beginning of the standoff.
The siege began Feb. 28, when ATF agents tried to serve cult leader Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh, with an arrest warrant for possessing illegal firearms.
At least six people, including four ATF agents, died in the shootouts that followed.
Most students haven’t noticed any disruptions in their daily schedules and have almost become accustomed to the constant flow of vehicles belonging to the media, ATF, FBI and other agencies.
“I really don’t pay any attention to it anymore,” said aviation maintenance student Tiki Merchant. “There are some physical limitations around the area that’s fenced off. But that doesn’t really bother us.”
The college has allowed agents to use many of the apartments on campus, but it hasn’t relocated any students.”
“We have about 60 state troopers in the Red River Apartments,” said Robert Kinney, Dean of Student Services. “Up until today, we had some of the Texas Rangers using other apartments that were vacant. We had to ask them to leave because the apartments were going to be used by students.”
The college expects some kind of compensation from the agencies using its facilities after the siege is over, Kinney said.
Although most haven’t been inconvenienced by the agents, a few students in the Aircraft Pilot Training program have had to adjust to flying restrictions placed on the airspace around the compound and at the school.
The Federal Aviation Administration has placed a five-mile restriction around the compound, instructing all pilots to avoid the area.
“This doesn’t really hurt us too much,” said student Kari Groth of College Station. “The school has said that we can’t fly east of I-35. We’re all ready for it to end.”
Others in the Aircraft Pilot Training Program have had to relocate their training to off-campus airports.
“For a while, we weren’t allowed to do approaches and had to go to Waco Regional Airport,” said Derek Curlee of Mathis, Texas.
“We still have to come in and land only. No touch and goes.”
Curlee also said students taking commercial and private airplane flying courses had been instructed to use airports as far away as Hillsboro because the agents had set up on the practice field.