Monday, April 28, 2008

Personal Safety Practices and Knowledge: Update

I asked some of my library connections about the little incident from last week. They told me that the perpetrator had been taking care of business throughout the lower level of the building, leaving behind numerous DNA samples. Security brought in local detectives, who collected the evidence (and, I fervently hope, cleaned and sterilized the area afterwards). They were in plain clothes and all. I saw them. I presume a file has been opened and will remain so in perpetuity because these aren't exactly priority cases for most law enforcement officials.

Nonetheless, I'm still bothered. No description was posted. No advice offered, other than the "personal safety practices and knowlege" advisory. The notice that I received had only gone out to staff, faculty, and administrators, not students. So, the people most at risk of being victims of this sort of behavior, the students, don't even have the knowlege of such an event. The library staff who were not on duty don't have a description to post. The lower level remains un-staffed.

Again, I don't expect this to be a high priority for the local police department; but I do expect the campus security to be a bit more concerned. I also expect the college to inform students. More importantly, I expect some suggestions or procedures for preventing or reporting such behavior to be posted along with that information.

Shouldn't campus security be empowering the students a little? Perhaps they are so used to their routine of opening offices and classrooms, keeping students from misbehaving, and the myriad other mundane tasks that take up their day that, when the time for actual security work appears, they slip into a caretaker role rather than one that could help the students take care of themselves. Why not, for instance a Hollaback site for this college or this area?

We are, fortunately, a small campus, easily patrolled but also publically accessible. There should be some way to, if not mobilize, get some ideas out to this student population. I'll have to think on it.

See also: Historiann, Breaking the Code, I Blame the Patriarchy, and more as I find them.


Ann said...

Thanks for the update--I'll link to it and update my post.

Belle said...

Empowering students is what we're about, isn't it? I'd probably bring it up in all my classes, get students talking about it. I'd encourage the library to post notices, and, with all the cell phones about with cameras, get somebody to snap a picture.

I agree; campus cops are too used to seeing students as the problem, not the most vulnerable population.

Babu said...

Does your campus have some version of student government? If so, you might want to run this by them and encourage them to ask some questions from the higher ups.

If your school doesn't want to spread information around, that doesn't mean it can't spread. You can mention it to your class as the previous comment mentioned. You can also use the stuff like Myspace and Facebook. Maybe create a Facebook page about the college flasher, list a description, and invite others to leave comments.

After Va Tech, a lot of us at my college were also concerned by the lack of concern for security. The school responded by putting "panic button" phones in some of the classrooms. They aren't actually plugged in to anything. And the cops don't have an operator to answer them if they were (you call the cops at my school, they send you to voice mail).

dykewife said...

the university here sent out a security notice to the entire student body telling us that some guys was up to no good (i can't remember the details). they described them as "aboriginal males".

yeah, really specific. anyway, i sent an email to the security office protesting the idiocy of such an announcement. i mean, we have over a thousand aboriginal students at the university.

i received an apology from the head of security about it. though security had little to do with the announcement he sent me a cc of the email he sent to communications about it.

the university is less concerned about student safety as it is about their own image. i guess appearing to be doing something while doing nothing is de rigeur on campuses.


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