Contributing writers discuss problematic speech from F&M-mandated security company, urge administration to respond to student feedback

By Lior Wolf ’19 & John Vallacchi ’18 || Contributing Writers 

People are entitled to share their opinions, and we are entitled to base our support (or lack thereof) of those people on those opinions. This article intends to voice the opinions of individual members of the F&M community, and is not representative of any one Greek organization, the IFC, or the Panhellenic Council.

When the F&M administration decided this year to implement new security rules for greek life, it was largely met with outrage and a lack of cooperation by the student body. Some of this was reactionary, and focused on the wrong issues, but some was very reasonable. A sentiment shared by many students is that we understand and agree with the main goal of the administration, to keep everyone safe, but feel like we should have been included at some point in the conversation about how best to do so. By unilaterally creating new policy and applying it to the student body in a very short time frame, the school administration has obviously made some mistakes. An example of this would be the rule that no one, including residents of fraternity houses, would be allowed upstairs while a party is going on. When fraternity members protested that they would like the ability to choose when to go to bed on a night when their organization is hosting a party, the school renegotiated the rule. This relatively mild example shows that, unsurprisingly, oversights were made on the part of the administration due to a lack of thorough planning. However, some aspects of the new policy have had more severe consequences than others.

For those who do not know the details of the new security policy, it goes like this. All fraternities are required to purchase third party security for one registered social event per month (though at this point at least two organizations have been mandated to have security for every social event they hold). In addition, the school purchases roaming security sporadically, in which a team walks back and forth between the different houses having parties that night. The nights the school gets roaming are not decided by any student body, and do not count towards the one security party per month quota.

Every time there is private security at an F&M fraternity, it is from a local company called MProtective. MProtective was not previously affiliated with the college in any way other than occasional security contracts, such as providing guards for Spring Arts or Fall Fest. However, they are now the only company which Greek organizations have the option of working with. According to school administrators, this is because they are the only company in the area which is willing to take on the risk associated with providing security at college fraternity parties. This explanation is plausible, as the growing trend around the country of violent and dangerous activity in Greek organizations has been well documented. The school has, therefore, doubled down on their partnership with MProtective. The Senior Associate Dean of the College receives a weekly report from the owner of the company on the organizations they were contracted to provide security at the previous weekend. These reports help inform the disciplinary decisions she makes about Greek organizations.

The lack of competition among security firms, and the school’s partnership with MProtective is problematic for several reasons. First, economically, with no competitors the company can set their own price for any of their services, and the Greek organizations are forced to accept it. Currently, the cost for hiring MProtective for a party is around $500, though some organizations have been forced to pay up to $650 when the company decided that more guards were necessary. This cost, even with the school administration’s non-official policy of covering half of, places a large financial burden on the student organizations which must pay it.

However, after doing some research into the background of the company, the simple issue of being expensive is not the most troubling aspect of the school’s continuing partnership with MProtective. Simply put, the ideals and morals which the company stands for are not representative of many students here at F&M, and yet the school forces us to financially support those views by mandating that we give MProtective our business. On the company’s public Facebook page, they share many news-related articles. Including those like the one below:

This is MProtective, LLC, not only sharing an article which celebrates the driver of a car ramming through a group of anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, but also seemingly advocating for those same protesters to be hit by a train.

To return to the initial assertion of this article, MProtective has the right to share their opinions on issues such as these, that is not being disputed. However, should we, as the student body, be forced to support a company whose views are so diametrically opposed to our own? Furthermore, by partnering with this company, is the school supporting those views, which may alienate a large portion of the campus community?

Here are a few more examples of inflammatory content on MProtective’s official, public Facebook page:

 

The article on the top seems to have been shared by MProtective in an attempt to use one criminal act to justify a broadly transphobic viewpoint. The article on the bottom, sourced from Breitbart News, reports on a Canadian nightclub shooting, focusing mainly on the religion of the the perpetrators as an explanation for their actions. Unlike the previous example of the pipeline protestors, these two articles represent identity-based attacks, either implicitly or actively endorsed by MProtective. This is the company tasked with keeping us safe. Will our fellow non-binary and Muslim students feel safe, knowing that the school has forced Greek organizations to partner with this company?

This is not all of the problematic content found on the MProtective Facebook page, other examples can be found below. For example, the company consistently reposts anti-gun control articles, while in contrast, Dr. Porterfield notified the community this past month that he will be advocating against the opening of a gun shop on Dillerville Pike. The point is not that people are not allowed to have these views. There are definitely some F&M students who would agree with some, if not all of the opinions put forth by MProtective, and they have every right to do so. The real issue is twofold, first of all, by partnering with this company, the school is supporting political speech, certain aspects of which seem antithetical to the expressed mission of the institution. Second of all, because hiring MProtective is the only way Greek organizations are allowed to have parties, the administration’s policy is forcing students to financially support a worldview they may vehemently disagree with. As a member of Greek life, I don’t think this company represents me, I don’t think it represents the experience I’ve had with my organization, and I don’t think it deserves my support.

Junior Lior Wolf is a contributing writer. His email is lwol@fandm.edu. Senior John Vallacchi is a contributing writer. His email is jvallacc@fandm.edu. 

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