First-year perspective on the open conversation of campus safety

By Samantha Milowitz || Layout Assistant 

On Tuesday, I attended the open conversation on security and parties on campus. As a first year, I was curious to see the members of the administration who I had been hearing from through streams of emails for the past couple of months and the way in which they would address our questions and concerns in person. I had questions of my own that I wanted answers to: what had happened in the last couple of months to make administration hire third party security? Why weren’t there background checks placed ahead of time? How much of my college experience would be placed into jeopardy because of these new rules? Did I come into this school at the wrong time? However, my doubts and worries were met with comfort when the small common room of Weis was soon filled with students who were not afraid of making their voices heard. 

Perhaps the administrators chose the small Weis common room because they didn’t think many people would show up—that’s so, boy were they wrong. Those present were not just members of sorority and fraternity life, but students from all different organizations, clubs, and sports teams on campus.

For those who were not there, here’s a quick rundown; Dean Hazlett explained the background of where MProtective came from and also the reasons for hiring a third party security system in the first place, stemming back to their concerns with safety of students at parties. This section of the meeting took a backseat to the numerous students that came forward, some with thoughts already written down on their phones, some with previously researched statistics on social culture, and some who told of their own experiences with the new face of this college. Most of the people that spoke were upperclassmen who, unlike myself, knew what the college was like before these rules were put into place and felt perfectly safe without them. These are the people who have the most experience on this college campus and can attest to the drastic changes being made, not for the better.

I left this meeting feeling a sense of power, of pride for the people in my school. Each comment in the room was met with snaps or applause. Those who spoke up were met with comforting pats by their friends, encouraging them to not be afraid and to keep speaking up. As a first-year, I am experiencing life on my own for the first time and am more aware than ever of the opportunities I have to make a difference. There was a lot of talk about the definition of safety at this meeting, but what was not addressed by the administration was the presence of the student body, and the determinacy to make this school better than it is right now.

What I want the school to take away from the forum is this: I am, like my fellow classmates, the kind of person that wanted a small college because of the accessibility it would give me to express my beliefs and be heard by administration and faculty. This sets us apart from schools like Penn State and should enable our ability to solve problems more efficiently with more transparency.  We obviously want to be involved in the decision making process, and we are the ones being directly affected by these changes, so why not just ask us what we think?

With the school testing out new security systems now, we hope that they prioritize our safety and nothing else.

What I would like the college to think about is the kind of environment it wants to create at this school. If the school keeps making it harder for fraternities to host parties, then those parties will be held elsewhere in significantly less safe conditions. I would like the school to keep in mind the word, “safety,” and how it wants to make every student feel safe in every capacity, not just during parties. My hope is that this forum will show that we, the students, are not going anywhere and that our thoughts and concerns will not be swept aside.

First-year Samantha Milowitz is a Layout Assistant. Her email is smilowit@fandm.edu.

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