Campus responds to increased presence of security in dorms

In order to bridge relations between the student body and the Department of Security, the College has begun to allow on-campus security guards to roam dorms. This change comes with a specific amendment that prevents Security from entering personal rooms without permission or receiving calls about problems, but students remain wary about Security’s newfound ability to walk through bathrooms, common rooms and hallways unannounced.

With this change, the College hopes that students will no longer look at Security as only a negative force on campus but rather look at them as partners in the effort to make a safer campus. Whether this policy has made students less anxious about Security’s presence has yet to be seen, but the goal of the initiative is to make students more comfortable around security members.

One of the largest concerns surrounding the new referendum is the idea that increased security presence will bring an increase in disciplinary action. The department refutes this fear, restating that their policy is to avoid hospital transports unless it is absolutely necessary, and many guards have been more understanding about different reports instead of being quick to cite students.

Community Advisor Malik Horton ’17 views this change positively. “The goal of the policy change is to foster better relationships in the community that will allow security to work alongside students in a more familiar and less threatening way,” Horton said, reiterating much of the discourse already surrounding the topic. “We want students to realize that security is a positive presence on campus and not just one that is trying to [carry out] disciplinary action.”

Students have mixed feelings about this new initiative: “While I haven’t seen any negative effects from the new policy, I’m worried that this might lead to more privacy invasion than a comfortable environment,” Hannah Lacasse ’17 said.

Like Lacasse, other students view it as an invasion of privacy. Security confiscated a student in East Quad’s candle simply because “they saw the flicker in [her] window.” Other students have also complained about exorbitant parking fees and unnecessary dorm fines.

Mary Park ’16, another CA, disagreed with security’s methods to enforce the new policy. “One of the things I was really upset by was how vague security was in addressing us about the new policy on rounds as well as lack of an open dialogue between CAs and security,” she said. “More rounds to get people in trouble doesn’t equal a friendlier image and seems like an invasion of privacy [to] the dorm community.”

Still, other students apart from CAs view it as a new opportunity to become more familiar with the people working in security. Lucy Bainbridge ’17 refuted her peers’ fear: “I think that this new policy is a great way to get to know the people who work in security as people, and not just as people who are ‘trying to get us into trouble.’ It will be nice to be able to put names to the faces of the [guards] who we see around all the time.”

Many students have only encountered security in a disciplinary role and are uncertain whether increased presence in the dorms will only get them in more trouble. At the same time, it is possible that the view of security guards will change when they are able to interact with students on a more regular basis.   

Though the new policy was implemented with the well-being of the student body in mind, the progression of the academic year will demonstrate whether or not increased security presence in dorms will foster a better relationship between security and students.

  • Charlotte Olena

    My freshman year at Colby, this was standard policy. Security patrolled inside dorms and busted parties. The policy was changed to remove security from the dorms in the spring of 2009 after the “April 11th incident” during which 2 African American students, Ozzy and Jake, were pinned to the floor of the Pugh center when trying to assist an ill friend who was in the SOBHU club office. The entire incident was filmed, including when Waterville Police entered Pugh and maced the students in the face, and watching it, you can see that security broke Ozzy’s nose and he’s bleeding. An investigation into police brutality was launched, the security guards in question were suspended, and security was banned from entering dorms unless called and invited to do so.

    I understand that campus security is around to make things safer for students, but I’m upset that the policy has been reverted to allow them back inside dorms. The reason they were banned from dorms in the first place was because they weren’t making students safer, they were causing them harm.

    Here’s the video and coverage of the report: