Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Board Editorial: Whitman security fails to protect students

On Feb. 25, the ASWC Student Affairs Committee issued a security memorandum to the Associate to the President Jed Schwendiman and Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland detailing the state of Whitman’s security.

The Committee’s findings are as startling as the recent string of campus thefts and attacks committed against students.

In the 2008-2009 academic year alone, there have been three assaults made against Whitman students. Two Interest Houses were burglarized while students were in residence and Jewett, Lyman and Prentiss Residence Halls have all reported thefts and reports of non-Whitman community members entering the premises.

And these are only the incidents that have been reported to college security. Countless students have been followed home or accosted or harassed by strangers on campus.

“With the recent rise in violence… it is becoming increasingly clear that Whitman’s current resources are simply insufficient to cope with [security] situations that do arise,” the memorandum states.

According to the Student Affairs Committee’s findings, compared to most colleges its size, Whitman has far fewer security resources in place.

Whereas most colleges our size employ eight to ten security officers, Whitman only employs five.

Given this year’s increase in violent attacks and crimes, it would be expected that the college would improve and expand upon the current resources in place.
Unfortunately, this has not been the case.

The only action the administration has taken to prevent such incidents is to leave the tennis court lights on during weekend evenings, an action which reflects the administration’s attitude that campus security is not a priority.

Few administrators will acknowledge that this year’s attacks deviate from those of previous years. Rather than recognizing the flaws in the college’s security system, they are quick to place the blame on student behavior.

That is not to say that students are not accountable for their own safety. Many students have, and continue to, practice unsafe behaviors such as leaving their doors unlocked, their belongings unattended to and walking home alone late at night.

But walking in pairs does not change the fact that the campus is not well-lit after dark. It does not make up for the lack of blue security lights in certain parts of campus or for the shortage of officers patrolling the campus.

Furthermore, the current security system only adds to the false sense of safety among students.

Only two of the three incidents were made public to students by the administration, and under the current system, incidents are only made public through email. If students are unaware of increased threats on campus, what motivation will there be for them to change their behaviors?

If it takes fifteen minutes for a security officer to arrive to escort a student home, is it realistic to assume that students will utilize this service if it is faster for them to walk home alone?

As much as students need to take their own safety more seriously, Whitman too must take the safety of its students more seriously.

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