While the term “anonymous tip line” may bring to mind a detective agency, Public Safety (PSafe) is currently trying to publicize a recent project with just this title. According to Director of Public Safety David Meyer, a lack of specifics regarding a graffiti incident in Clark Residence Hall during the spring of 2007 prompted PSafe to reconsider the ways they collect information from students. After reviewing their options, PSafe created a web page that allows students to anonymously submit information regarding criminal incidents on campus.
Working with the Public Safety Advisory Committee—a subcommittee of the Wesleyan Student Assembly’s Community Outreach Committee—Meyer brought the concept to fruition last spring. Similar programs have been implemented at various other colleges and universities with great success.
“We were looking for some method where people could report things anonymously,” Meyer explained. “It’s important that people realize that we won’t know who it’s coming from.”
Meyer reviews all comments submitted to the online message box personally. He emphasized that PSafe encourages students to send in relevant complaints and information regarding campus safety violations.
“If someone feels something is serious enough to be an issue, we need to address it,” Meyer said.
Meyer feels that students are often hesitant to go to the Public Safety Department to report information and directly identify themselves. This sentiment was echoed by some members of the student body.
“[Going to PSafe in person] could be pretty intimidating,” said Alex Givner ’12. “I don’t feel like kids feel comfortable around PSafe.”
If a student personally contacts PSafe, he or she cannot be guaranteed confidentiality until Meyer is informed of the exact nature of the situation. Using the web page allows students to be certain that they will remain anonymous. However, students have the option of leaving their e-mail addresses if they would like to be updated on the situation later.
“Because of the smallness of the [Wesleyan] community, people often don’t want to get directly involved,” Meyer said. “After all, you might have a class with a person the next day.”
So far, most tips have involved residence hall issues or noise complaints. After being informed of incidents via the tip line, PSafe is able to provide information to the Office of Residential Life, who is then able to address the matter. PSafe has yet to receive any tips regarding issues of great severity through the anonymous tip line. Meyer, however, feels that with more people on campus know about the service, the more help it will be able to provide.
Meyer also said that the tip line has received a handful of bogus entries. While PSafe certainly does not welcome the sarcasm, the belief is that the usefulness of the anonymous tip line will outweigh any needless humor from students.
“We get a couple of foolish ones—as with anything else, of course” he said.
In terms of making the tip line effective, however, the greatest concern for PSafe is spreading word of the program’s existence.
“If it was publicized more, it sounds like it would be a great idea,” said Garrett Ruggieri ’11.