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ISSUE 118 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/25/2005

Public safety concerns

By Jeremy Schowalter
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 25, 2005

Public Safety is a necessity. Local law enforcement cannot deal with the ins and outs of daily campus life, and St. Olaf wouldn’t want them to try.

Twenty years ago the “Green Army” filled both security and maintenance roles on campus. At the time, students had personal relationships with these individuals, and there was a mutual liking and respect between them.

Today, there is clearly a different situation on the St. Olaf campus. Public Safety controls parking issues, drug and alcohol offenses and investigates minor crimes. They drive around campus in Jeeps, lock up buildings and give rides to people who want to be safe at night.

The issue that many students have doesn’t relate to what these protectors do, but to the manner in and demeanor with which they do it.

Several Public Safety officers on campus are rude to students during every single encounter. When a student calls to report an incident of violated privacy, the last thing he or she needs is a smug, rude, intimidating figure with a chip on his or her shoulder to act as if they could not care less about the problem.

All too often, this is exactly the attitude that students meet. I myself have had such an encounter with Public Safety. In one situation, I apparently was rude to the Public Safety dispatcher, and four minutes later I was being interrogated by two men twice my size, each of whom were clearly acting on personal motivations.

The day that keeping campus safe was traded for intimidation was the day that I felt less safe and more worried. I will not say that Public Safety officers have easy jobs. They work long hours, often through the night, and encounter intoxicated and rowdy students regularly. It must be hard to keep a positive mindset.

However, at an institution where many students pay exorbitant amounts of money to be educated, their worries should not be focused on the shifty dispositions of certain Public Safety officers on campus.

A student who requests a safe ride from the edge of campus after midnight in the freezing cold should not be treated as a nuisance. Unfortunately, I have heard many stories of students being treated rudely in such situations and in similar situations as well.

I work for Bon Appetit, another service that operates on this campus, and there is a general consensus among management and workers that the attitude of employees reflects on the employer.

I would like to see St. Olaf at least recommend to their security staff that they have decent attitudes, or maybe even include character analysis in the application process.


Contributing writer Jeremy Schowalter is a junior from Racine, Wisc. He majors in political science

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