The Silent Witness program at Keene State College is an online submission page where anyone can “report crimes/incidents/and/or serious policy violations which may affect the health, safety, or welfare of the Keene State College Community,” according to the Campus Safety website
In light of recent incidents regarding Pumpkin Fest, being a silent witness is increasingly being talked about more and more around campus. The Equinox recognizes both the values and the problems associated with this and would like to argue that this silent witness program serves as a double-edged sword.
While it can protect the confidentiality of a person dealing with an issue, it can also cause problems if used incorrectly. The Equinox believes that for students who feel uncomfortable and are overwhelmed with a personal issues, this is a great resource that they should make use of.
It provides students with an outlet when they feel like there is nowhere else to turn. Also, if a student is not directly dealing with an issue but they know of someone who is but are unsure about how to get them help, they can make use of this program.
However, The Equinox would like to establish where there can be some gray area and room for complications. The Equinox believes that students should not use this as a way of getting revenge by using the Silent Witness program to cause harm to someone else.
Some students may want to cause problems and start placing blame on innocent people simply because they dislike them … or in the case of Pumpkin Fest, want to point the finger, hold someone accountable and move on.
This is not to say that all students abuse the Silent Witness program and use it for their own selfish reasonings, however, we do acknowledge that there is a possibility of these types of problems arising. Conversely, The Equinox would like to say that participating in Silent Witness does not make a person a “tattletale.”
If a person feels genuine concern about an issue, they should not hesitate to make use of this program. However, it should be noted that whoever reviews these submissions has the power to decide what to further investigate. When the discretion of what constitutes as sexual assault is in the hands of authority, there can be some gray area.
The bottom line is that any reports of sexual assault or anything else along those lines of severity need to be taken into consideration immediately. All too often students go without speaking up about terrible things that have happened to them. It takes a great amount of courage to speak up about personal issues that can be very hard to come to terms with.
Many times people want to ignore these issues and put them aside as if they never even happened. This is why every single submission needs to be taken seriously and should require someone’s action as soon as possible. Another difficulty with this program is misidentification.
Taking into consideration the recent riots on campus, many students photographed are hard to identify.
In many photographs, the people are wearing hats and sunglasses which makes it extremely difficult to decipher who they actually are. This leaves room for misidentification.
A student may get accused for simply resembling a person who was photographed. Although the idea of posting these pictures and allowing students to scroll through and see if they come across anyone they recognize is a good one, it leaves room for error.
The Equinox believes that this can either greatly benefit a struggling person or it can be misused in which case it would cause problems.
Overall The Equinox agrees that Silent Witness is something that should remain available and in place for students to access; however, the issues associated with it need to be acknowledged and considered.