Students raise concerns over campus security transparency

Anabelle Dillard, News Reporter

With the return to in-person classes, comes the return of weekend parties and renewed questions about student safety and the possibility of increased COVID-19 cases. 

Campus security recently underwent a change in management after two years with Director Marvin Viney. Stephen Davis assumed the role of director of security in Aug. 2020, and Sidd Saini started as assistant director in March 2021. 

“One aspect of college life will be the nightlife of parties and social gatherings. Our campus security can be called 24/7 to assist with a student who may need assistance,” Davis said. “We want all Whitman College students to be safe and enjoy their educational experience without any harm.” 

If students feel unsafe on campus, they can contact campus security by calling the emergency number at (509) 527-5777 or emailing [email protected]

Most fraternities have adopted some safety precautions at their parties, such as checking Whitman IDs and vaccination status at the door. Masks are not required at these events. 

There are also seven blue light locations on campus, which can be used to call emergency services or campus security by pushing the red and black buttons, respectively. Student security employees, identifiable by their campus security officer uniforms, will begin patrolling areas soon. 

However, some students still question if enough is being done. In a recent opinion piece, Wire columnist Hailey Livingston criticized Whitman’s treatment of sexual assault, especially the lack of sexual assault prevention training for incoming students. Whitman recently ended the Green Dot program, which was widely criticized among students for being insufficient and uncomfortably light-hearted. 

This week, anonymous students criticized the Annual Security Report by posting flyers around campus. These flyers pointed out the inaccurate low numbers and discrepancies between the security report and daily crime log, as well as discrepancies known through individual experiences. Senior Leo Polk sent a picture of one of the flyers to the student listserv in the hopes of spreading the message of outrage. 

“I honestly have been scared walking at night on campus. I have of course been called homophobic slurs by passer-bys which should not be discounted as a regular occurrence on campus,” Polk said. “This is what scares me about the security report. Security has been transparent in the past about hate speech and threatening in the past. However, this year, we’ve seen very little action.”

In a campus-wide email sent on Oct. 22, Kathy Murray announced that the school had found discrepancies in the report and would be auditing the numbers. The mistakes were attributed to human error and were said to be unintentional. A corrected security report will be released at an unspecified future date, and the school will conduct a review of the crime reporting process and protocols going forward. 

Some students were not satisfied with this statement, and more flyers were posted around campus criticizing the school’s response. 

“What I hoped Kathy Murray had said in her apology was some sort of pledge to actually address the obscene real number of sexual assault allegations on campus,” Polk said. “This apology was a cop out. One that is ignorant to our safety and the memories and traumas of our community.”