The continued presence of security officers in first-year dorms has confused and upset some students because Security had agreed to stop its controversial walk-throughs. Both Security and first-year College Council (CC) representatives agree that Security has not broken any agreements and is simply maintaining its traditional presence on campus.
The relationship between Security and first-year students has been the subject of many misconceptions this year. In the beginning of the academic year, Security conducted sweeps of first-year entries. This policy prompted protests from students that their privacy was being invaded.
As a result, first-year representatives to CC Mayo Shattuck, Edward O’Donnell and Ashford Bradley met with security before Thanksgiving to explore ways of repairing relations between first-years and Security.
“The substance of the agreement was to open up communication between Security and first-year entries,” said Director of Security Jean Thorndike. “Students were concerned with their privacy and Security was concerned that a negative image was being conveyed. We met with the frosh CC reps to work on ways to improve our interactions. We agreed to modify the walk-throughs and to meet with entries and to talk about what we do and what students might expect from security officers who are patrolling buildings.”
Shattuck’s description of the agreement was very similar to Thorndike’s. “Security and the frosh CC reps agreed that entry talks were the best means of opening up communication and that walk-throughs would stop,” Shattuck said. The talks have occurred the first three weekends of Winter Study.
Shattuck noted that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, crime – both theft and damage – in the entries increased. David Boyer, assistant director of Security, said, “What we’re doing now is the same as what we’ve been doing since 1989. We do not currently have scheduled patrols through the dorms. Security will enter a dorm at a student’s request – to open a locked door or deal with noise complaints, for example, or because an officer spots something unusual or, as has lately been the case in Williams Hall, because an area has been a hot spot in recent times.”
Williams Hall accrued over $2000 worth of damage fines the first weekend of Winter Study, including serious damage to fire safety equipment. It has also been the site of numerous fights. “Security enters the dorms five to six thousand times each year to help students, and students should realize that service to students is the primary cause of Security presence in the dorms,” Boyer said. “There are students who really appreciate the presence of Security who do not make their voice heard.”
Bradley ascribed some of the recent confusion about the role of Security in first-year dorms to confusion in early entry talks. “Security failed to convey that the new policy wasn’t a completely hands-off approach to the dorms. I think that in the second round of talks, they succeeded in making things clearer,” Bradley said.
When the first-year CC reps met with Security, they discussed plans for establishing better means of communications between Security and students.
“We want to start a permanent student committee that meets regularly with Security to represent student concerns and to let security know students positions on issues,” Bradley said.
Williams F Junior Advisor Tim Menza ’01 described Security’s presence in his entry as “definitely lighter than at the beginning of the year.”
“The presence of security in Williams Hall takes responsibility off of the JAs and makes Security responsible for keeping damage under control,” Menza said. “I think my frosh understand why Security is there and even welcome it, especially if it results in them having to pay less damage fees. The entry talks definitely helped to clear up tensions between frosh and Security.”