By Emily Rotthaler– After finishing the first full year of criminal justice classes at Morningside, Professor Jessica Meckes looks back on the first steps and forward to the new opportunities for the department.
Meckes, who is one of the department’s only two instructors, said the first year has been great. She added, “It was a little bit of an adjustment, especially with COVID last year and changing the way we have to teach, but it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been great to meet a lot of different students.”
According to Meckes, the department is “definitely seeing a lot of growth” and expects to keep growing. This second year of operation, CRJS had an incoming class of 14 students and is looking at an even greater number of prospective students for the third.
The classes offered are popular amongst the student body, whether it be for their major or out of sheer interest derived from crime TV shows.
Freshman Alejandra Iñiguez is one of the department’s new majoring students. What moved her to become a CRJS major was a fascination for true crime documentaries and the way different law enforcement members cooperate to bring justice to families.
Iñiguez said, what she has enjoyed most about her CRJS class so far, are the discussions about recent crimes and the chance to explore other students’ opinions on current issues in the world of law enforcement.
Iñiguez, who is currently taking Introduction to Criminal Justice, instructed by the department’s second professor, John Gonsler, said she likes the professor’s education methods.
She said, “He makes it interesting by applying his experience of being a police officer and writing letters to serial killers to the curriculum.”
Those wanting to pursue a career in criminal justice can look forward to a variety of jobs in the field. The demand is high and not just for new police officers.
“There’s a lot of sub-careers and support positions that don’t involve carrying a weapon,” Meckes said and added that the field of law enforcement that involves computer specialization is booming.
To optimally prepare students for their future careers, the department plans to add several new classes to the course schedule in the near future. Gonsler, for example, will teach Crime and the Media in the spring, which, according to Meckes, is one of his areas of expertise.
Other courses that will be offered in upcoming semesters are Victimology, a class on the death penalty, and a course on violence including content on “mass murderers, serial killers and all the good and gory stuff,” according to Meckes.