OP-ED: Anonymous writer expresses concerns about security, Public Safety at F&M

To Whom it May Concern,

I am one of many concerned students at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I’m writing to you today because I’m interested in illuminating the failure of the administration and Public Safety to protect students. There have been numerous incidents of rape and sexual assault involving students of all backgrounds. The administration should put in place  systems that actually work, so that students can walk around campus without fear of a predator attacking them. The lack of policies and safety measures taken by the administration to protect students is concerning; there are numerous problems with systems such as the bluelight program, building security, and Public Safety.  

Recently the student body was notified of a rape on campus by someone from outside the F&M community, and given a generic description of a man, making it impossible to identify him if a student were ever to encounter him on campus. In response, the perpetrator was banned from campus property. This action taken by the administration is not effective in protecting students from this perpetrator. Many locals walk through campus at all times, so how are students supposed to identify who is allowed on campus or not? Many small institutions like Franklin & Marshall College have systems in place, preventing banned people from entering the campus after a certain time at night. This is why security measures like bluelight system, building access, and Public Safety policies need to work in order to effectively protect students. 

The systems in place that were promised to help protect us do not work. The bluelight system does not work in certain locations due to faulty buttons that were reported on numerous occasions, but were never fixed. Furthermore, Public Safety promised, during freshman orientation and interviews, to walk those who are intoxicated or in need of assistance getting home, to ensure their safety. However one student confided that they called public safety on account of a student needing help, and public safety refused to come assist the student home, claiming it was not their job. Having an officer walk students in need of help home could prevent students from being hurt by those preying on vulnerable students. 

Campus dormitories have a system in which a student must swipe their ID in order to unlock the door, however, there are many problems with the system. Students often have to swipe their ID numerous time to activate the unlocking of the door, which leaves them vulnerable for attacking. Furthermore, many campus doors stay open for a long time allowing for anyone to come in behind a student. This is extremely concerning because a perpetrator could easily enter a building attacking students at any time. There are already concerns of this having happened before and happening again. In addition, there are handicapped buttons that do not work, preventing students with disabilities from accessing buildings. This is a critical system because students with disabilities need to be able to seek safety in their dormitories. Furthermore, Franklin & Marshall is an extremely dark campus, adding more lights could be beneficial to students, allowing them to see who is behind them. This would also allow Public Safety to identify more easily people who are banned from campus.  However, more action needs to be taken in addition to lighting. 

The administration and public safety are also failing to address acts of racism on campus as well. Recently there was a racial slur inscribed on someone’s door and the school sent out an email describing it as a bias crime. The school is tiptoeing around hate crimes by calling them bias crimes. They are actively trying to protect those who are spreading hate instead of focusing on how to protect students. Furthermore, Public Safety is criminalizing the people of color on campus by targeting parties that are predominantly made up of people of color, instead of preventing the increasing number of rapes occurring on campus. This is unacceptable. Racially profiling students and ignoring blatant acts of racism are not protecting students. Having more representation for people of color in Public Safety could help in addition to some training that would hopefully address some of these issues.  

These issues of the blue light system, public safety, and building safety are minute issues that can be fixed by the administration or even the board of trustees. Why is it that these problems are not being addressed? Students are willing to use these systems when they need help, but help is not being provided. Predators knowing that bluelight systems don’t work can, have, and will continue to prey on students at Franklin & Marshall College if no action is taken. 

I’m pleading for change to happen. Please help me create change on my campus and across all college campuses in the U.S. No college student should be concerned about when they will be raped as if it is a fact of their future. There are many student willing to speak about rape culture at Franklin and Marshall College. The administration refuses to listen to our concerns so I hope you will. Please let me know if you can help or direct me to someone who can.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Anonymous

This writer preferred to remain anonymous. Please direct any comments or questions to reporter@fandm.edu.

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