Some Campus Safety policies may be outdated
Campus and student conduct policies have needed an update for quite some time, though events in the past few years have made it more pressing.
Campus Safety recently announced they will be revisiting and updating the student handbook. In order to make it a more productive update for the campus, the department has decided to include student panels in the process. Though it was announced at a student assembly meeting, students such as athletes, employees and general members of the student body will also be asked for their input.
The Equinox firmly believes that involving students in the decisionmaking process on the revision of policies is a good idea. Most students are not aware of all of the policies that are included in the handbook so this will be a great way for students to learn and help write new policies. A student panel will also help the safety and conduct offices keep upto-date with how students are interacting and what changes have been made in society.
Many of the policies that exist now could be considered outdated. For example, there is a particular policy in the student handbook under the “Disorderly, Disruptive or Indecent Behavior Policy” section that regulates gendered bathroom usage. It states that “The following describes behaviors that are considered by the College to be disorderly, disruptive, or indecent whether they occur on or off campus: Using a bathroom that is inconsistent with one’s gender identity.” While this may have been an issue to be pointed out years ago, in 2021 it could be seen as discriminatory against those who identify as non-binary or gender-fluid. The Equinox believes this policy needs to be revised or removed from the student handbook given the diverse and accepting environment that the college promotes.
In general, the Equinox believes that Campus Safety should work on being seen as protectors of the campus community instead of police. Many students feel intimidated around Campus Safety or feel as though they will get in trouble for something, even if they aren’t doing anything wrong. The officers are expected to check rooms if they get reports like the odor of drugs or potential alcohol possession, but surrounding rooms are often searched as well which makes students think that the officers are out to get them. Especially in first-year dorms, it is not uncommon to see students dash into their rooms when they see a Campus Safety officer in the halls. This attitude around the department will not help them with de-escalation or creating a feeling of safety on campus.
Campus Safety is taking a step in the right direction by getting students involved in the process of revising the handbook, but they will need to do more to repair the relationship with students. Many of the officers who work for Campus Safety are very understanding, knowledgeable people, but students are too intimidated to get to know the truth about them. To remedy this, The Equinox believes it would be beneficial for officers to be on campus even when there is no crisis to be averted. Seeing officers walking down Appian Way or hanging out in the student center would be a great way to integrate them into normal campus life. It would even be beneficial for the officers to be introduced to students. This could be done through their Instagram or through videos sent to the class Facebook pages. Even knowing the names of the officers would make them seem like less of an authority figure and might open up a better pathway for communication with the students.