Letter to the Editor
The Public Safety Advisory Board
This means that, for one thing, we need to understand the Department of Public Safety is going to be part of our everyday lives. They go on patrol 24/7 and are always available in a variety of ways and for a variety of circumstances. Unfortunately, at times, they need to interact with us that we may interrupt as intrusive, unwanted or even harassing. While this is never something the Department of Public Safety or students look forward to, they do happen and that can create some extremely negative stigma. Surely, one can understand that at times such authority can be necessary, but far too often when such authority is exercised students react by spreading baseless, overblown rumors about officers hiding in bushes or targeting individuals without reason. These rumors are always damaging and alienating to the Department of Public Safety and cause relations between them and the student body to become stressed.
Officers have expressed to the board many students refuse to make eye contact with them or express a simple hello in reply when they pass. Just think about how uncomfortable you may be if your fellow students treat you in this manner while walking around campus. Yet, at the same time, students have the right to provide input into how our campus community ought to be run, and more importantly, they need to be ensured that a campus police force like the Department of Public Safety is truly there to keep them safe. With such a series of conflicting relations, it becomes hard for either side to do what they need to be doing effectively. It would seem that both groups, the Department of Public Safety and the student body, would be at a stand still. Neither group can effectively communicate to one another. So if a problem arises there is nowhere for students and Public Safety to work things out. This situation explains precisely why the Public Safety Advisory Board came into existence. There was an obvious need on campus for a group of students to reach out to the Department of Public Safety and figure out how to solve the two groups problems together, as part of one unified organization. While progress can at times be slow when trying to change hearts and minds away from negative stigmas, but the Public Safety Advisory Board’s mission benefits both parties so enormously the benefits outweigh any setbacks.
The board began three short years ago and immediately had to grapple with what it is role should be. After vigorous critiques over our mission and weekly meetings between the board and Lt. Michael Guido, our ideas came together. It was understood that our group had a very particular mission: to improve relations between the student body and the Department of Public Safety. However, in order to do that the Public Safety Advisory Board needed to also be flexible. That is why the fundamental mission of the board is to accurately inform the student body about the Department of Public Safety, resolve conflicts between the two groups, and act as a bridge for communication between the student body and the Department of Public Safety. That way, whatever these two groups need to do to ensure our camps remains our campus they can use the Public Safety Advisory Board to accelerate the process. Today, the Public Safety Advisory Board meets once every other week in one of our HUB side rooms with a wide range of students. From those who simply want to know what the Department of Public Safety does on a daily basis, to safety policies and how we can continue to work together to change our campus into a place where we can utilize all of our resources and thrive. Despite students coming for different reasons, the result of attending our meetings remains constant: once students become informed of our mission their attitudes begin to change, and with that our campus also begins to change.
-Julian Cohen-Serrins ’13