This past Wednesday, the Fountain Avenue Commission e-mailed every student on campus a long list of proposed reforms to the University’s security policy. These reforms, which come in the wake of the Fountain incident, detail a myriad of ways to make our campus safer. Issues addressed include town-gown relations, the role of Public Safety and Middletown Police on campus and the use and regulation of handheld cameras.
We applaud the Wesleyan Student Assembly for their proposal—and not just because they spent a considerable amount of time on the issue. Were the University to enact their specific, insightful reforms, our campus could very well become a much more congenial place. The Commission has done exactly what is necessary to prevent another Fountain from occurring.
Most of their ideas address “strained relations” on campus. They propose that Public Safety officers train students to work as escorts, as well as allow students to “shadow” an officer for a day. In addition, they suggest that individual officers be assigned to a given dorm—which, in conjunction with monthly programs, could forge strong bonds between students and their officers. They also apply this mindset to the MPD, who they say could talk with students at regular “Midnight Breakfasts” in Usdan. For students living in woodframe houses, they hope to draw up a map of campus that includes area residents, making it clear what is University property and what is not. All of their recommendations will help build trust on campus—which, considering how little seems to exist between students and police officers, could make the difference between a peaceful dispersal and a skirmish.
As for handheld cameras, the Commission is taking steps to protect students and their privacy. They contend that officers can use them to “survey” an area, but cannot use them to track an individual. Additionally, the Student Judicial Board cannot use footage as evidence against a student. The idea is to limit surveillance to the absolutely necessary—a restriction that could go a long way towards protecting students’ rights.
The Commission has done a commendable job. By compiling a list of well-thought-out proposals, they have given the University a blueprint for positive change. We hope the administration will work to enact their reforms.