In Defense of Public Safety



While it seems that the number of assaults on students and residents in the area has increased significantly this semester, it calls into question the safety of our campus and the overall quality of security.

An immediate analysis of this situation may be to blame the high number of incidents on an issue with security.  However, when examining each incident individually, it seems more realistic to assume that almost all of the problems were avoidable, had the person used caution.

College, for many students on campus, provides the first real opportunity for independence.  Students have the freedom and responsibility to make decisions for themselves.

Security fulfills the duties of keeping unauthorized persons from entering dorms or causing problems on campus. Notice that in the email notification received from security regarding incidents, all the incidents took place off campus.

It is unreasonable to suggest that it is Public Safety’s job to guard students in their endeavors off campus.  It is outside of public safety’s duties to, for example, patrol the Waldo steps all night or the subway entrances on Broadway.

Public Safety’s responsibilities can and should only be extended to incidents that occur on campus. When a student’s cell phone is stolen while he or she is in front of the Draddy Gymnasium entrance, it is acceptable to question why security was not at that post. But if a student is walking around Fieldston at night on the phone, it is less reasonable to assume that security should be monitoring his or her surroundings.

Students are able to make their own choices and the school can only warn us and provide safety advice when it comes to matters off campus.  Public safety does advise that students to hide electronics such as cell phones and iPods when travelling off campus and to not wander off of the campus alone, especially at night.

To suggest that Public Safety should do more for students off campus would actually violate students’ independence. Having our whereabouts constantly monitored in New York City is just not feasible. Security can only guide students on how to avoid dangers when they are off campus. Beyond that, it is up to students to make their own decisions for their own well-being.

Though students are free to make their own choices, and must therefore take responsibility for what choose to do, it does not suggest that they are by any means deserving of anything that has or may happen to them off campus. The truth of the matter is that an overwhelming majority of students have used their cell phones while walking to the Subway platform or down on Broadway.

Just as students are not and not be found at fault for what happens to them when they are assaulted off campus, Public Safety should also not be blamed. Security should not be expected to prevent incidents that occur off campus.  Public Safety’s effectiveness should be evaluated based on matters related to and that happen on this campus.  Their ability to keep students safe is limited and it is up to students to a certain degree to make decisions regarding their general safety.