Senate Beat: An Inquiry into Values
Senate opened the floor on Thursday to Director of Community Safety Gary Granger and the dozen students in attendance to discuss Community Safety’s plan to have Student Patrol Officers report AOD violations.
Senator Marie Perez claimed that Community Safety is hiring Student Patrol Officers because doing so is less expensive than hiring more Community Safety Officers or paying for private security. Perez expressed concerns that SPOs might ignore AOD violations in some cases, only to report those whom they disliked.
Senator Shabab Mirza ’13 said that the SPO program has been successful in the past, but that the newly proposed program was a “very different package.” Mirza added that he felt it was possible for an act to violate college policy but not the Honor Principle, and that he feared SPOs would be forced to report policy violations that they did not feel were dishonorable.
A student in the audience asked how the new SPO program is different than past programs, and Senator Ari Galper ’14 answered that SPOs would now be required to receive technical security certification as per state law. Granger envisioned these trained students reporting AOD violations, said Galper. Head Treasurer Johannes Harkins ’14 voiced concerns that SPOs may feel obligated to confront danger. Senator Sarah Carlisle ’13 called the new SPO program “not legit at all,” but disagreed with Mirza about policy violations and Honor Principle violations. Carlisle said she felt handing out an AOD violation was not handing out an Honor violation.
Mirza claimed it is possible for a violation of policy to not merit punishment, and that if SPOs were required to enforce policy, they might be indirectly punishing students. Senator John Iselin ’13 said he thought both Community Safety and the student body could benefit from the SPO program, and asked whether Senate should seek to amend the program or oppose it entirely.
Perez said that while the chances of an SPO being hurt or killed were very low, putting students in positions where they may be injured is to big a risk to take.
Student Body Vice President Aidan Sigman ’13, who was mediating the discussion in place of Student Body President Brian Moore ’13, who was “hella sick” and unable to attend, responded to Carlisle and Mirza and said that AOD violations are currently hybridized into the Honor Process and that AOD violations lead to mediation.
Senate Publicity Officer Michael Zhao ’14 asked if there was a definition of what an AOD violation does, adding that he was told during orientation week that AOD violations were for “information gathering.” Sigman noted that Dean of Student Mike Brody sent in an email to the student body the AOD implementation plan guidelines. Mirza, seeking clarification, asked if this meant there is an AOD policy, an AOD implementation plan, and a set of implementation plan guidelines. Sigman answered in the affirmative.
One student claimed that students don’t write AOD policy. Carlisle noted that Senate passed and helped write the policy. Senator Dana Loutey ’12 said she felt the SPO program is a terrible idea, adding that Night Owls already assist students in need of help. Loutey agreed with Perez’s concerns that SPOs would be biased in their reporting AOD violations.
Iselin said that the SPO program and the Night Owls are considerably different, noting that the SPOs would be funded by Community Safety. Iselin also claimed that having SPOs to alleviate the workload of Community Safety would be helpful, and that the supposed strain placed on SPOs was being exaggerated. Iselin and Galper agreed that Senate should try to mitigate any issues they had with the program before rejecting it, but Galper said that he didn’t see many options for compromise. Iselin claimed CSOs would be able to cover more ground with the SPO program.
Harkins reiterated Loutey’s point about Night Owls, and suggested exploring modifying the Night Owls program to resemble the SPO program. Harkins said of the SPOs, “I think the program is sort of off the mark.”
Granger said the SPOs will most likely work those times that are busiest for Community Safety. Granger explained that it takes two CSOs an hour to lock the library, and added that CSOs also have to lock Vollum, Eliot, and other buildings on campus. Pacific Security Services, the private security firm used by Community Safety, is expensive and being paid for by the college itself and not Community Safety, said Granger. The college received many phone calls from concerned parents, continued Granger, and Community Safety can’t justify not maintaining the current level of elevated security, though it has to find a way to do so sustainably. Mirza asked why the SPO program was discontinued, and Granger said that it was cancelled before he started at Reed in June of 2010. Granger said that SPOs would be required by Oregon law to receive security certification because they would be performing private security work. The law would not require students to report AODs, said Granger, but having SPOs ignore AOD violations seemed undesirable when the program being drafted.
Zhao said that while he thought Community Safety had the best intentions with the SPO program, President George W. Bush also had the best intentions when elevating airport security, “and look at where we are now.” Zhao warned of a slippery slope and said though he considered CSOs as an integral part of the community, he knew some students considered them “an extension of the Man,” and that he feared the SPO program would cause further “disharmony.”
A student suggested that SPOs only confront students about AOD violations and not report them. Granger said he thought students had an issue with SPOs confronting students in an official role, but that perhaps he misunderstood. Granger posed a hypothetical situation where an SPO witnessed someone stealing and asked what the proper response for the SPO would be. Both AOD violations and theft were instances of breaking the law, said Granger, but continued, “I will suspend implementation of the SPO program as of this moment,” until an agreement could be reached between Community Safety and students on an acceptable compromise.
Granger said that AOD violations could not be ignored because of Community Safety’s memorandum of understanding with the Portland Police Bureau, but that he felt violations could be dealt with honorably. Granger added that he was seeking a “Reed way” to implement the program, and he was attending the Senate Meeting for transparency’s sake.
Vice Treasurer Paul Messick ’15 said the ability to issue AOD violations would give students power over other students and divide the student body. Messick suggested that Community Safety not employ SPOs and that SPOs be used only to perform functions like locking and unlocking buildings. Granger said that SPOs would be reporting AOD violations, not issuing them, something he said that anyone can already do. Granger added he felt it was still unclear what an SPO should do if they noticed an AOD violation. Community Safety’s intent with the SPO program was to provide “gainful, meaningful employment” that might benefit the community, Granger concluded.
Perez claimed that private security is expensive because contractors have to pay their staff hazard pay, and that she felt hiring students because they were less expensive is not in the best interest of those students. Perez said student employment on campus is important, but that it might be better for a slightly modified program to be paid for by Residence Life or the Library for locking and unlocking buildings. Granger said that private security was expensive because the companies were looking to profit, not because of hazard pay, and that the SPO program was being planned before the armed robberies took place.
Iselin said he agreed with Granger that it is difficult to justify lowering security, but that he felt SPOs could create a divide in the student body. Loutey said that confronting thieves would be potentially dangerous for SPOs, but that having a discussion with a student violating the AOD policy would not. Loutey added that it seemed the SPO program was only being considered because paying students is less expensive than paying a private security firm.
Granger said that the Community Safety budget was restricted by the administration and that he could not use funds allocated toward paying students to instead pay new CSOs.
Carlisle suggested exploring SPOs promoting awareness of the AOD policy rather than reporting AOD violations. Granger said that Housing Advisers were a good model for that approach, and that he would consider them as an example moving forward.
Mirza motioned to close the speaker’s stack, but the motion failed. Mirza repeated that the SPO program was different in the past, and asked if SPOs could informally mediate AOD violations. Granger said that Community Safety could not advocate that policy because of its memorandum of understanding with the Portland Police Bureau. The memorandum, said Granger, requires simple violations of the law to be reported to the Dean of Students. Granger reiterated the potential of HAs as a model for the program.
Senator Torra Spillane ’12, who sat on a couch with the audience for the entire meeting, asked how HAs’ reporting AOD violations works. Sigman answered that it is unclear, and that Residence Life Committee is wrestling with the issue. “What an HA does and when they have to do it is currently being worked on,” Sigman said.
Spillane asked which incidents SPOs would be required to report under any circumstances, and Granger said that all employees of the college are required by law to report instances of sexual assault. Granger said that he is not an advocate of having HAs report AOD violations and do walkthroughs of their dorms, as many do at other colleges.
Granger was asked by a student how much of the SPO program must be codified. Granger said vagueness in the program’s definition left room for lawsuits, and that Community Safety needs “a robust, documented training program, and you need to know what’s expected of you.” Granger said that it might be possible to codify the program “with reasonable latitude,” but that it would still be defensive.
Iselin motioned to close the speaker’s stack. The motion passed with Galper and Spillane voting nay.
Zhao echoed the recommendation that SPOs not receive funding from Community Safety and have a different role than had been previously suggested by Granger.
Granger said that he would not move forward with something that the student body disapproved of because his success is contingent upon student body approval. Having SPOs report AOD violations was no longer being considered, said Granger.
Perez asked how Community Safety was paying for Pacific Security Services, and Granger said that College Treasurer Ed McFarlane was ensuring that private security was paid for. Perez asked if SPOs could be dispatchers, and Granger said that dispatchers have access to “a great deal of confidential information” and victimized students who call for assistance, and that having SPOs had been considered but decided to be too complicated to implement at this time.
The discussion concluded as a small, brown kitten that had apparently been in the audience the entire meeting emerged out of nowhere. Both Senate and the audience were so excited that a motion to adjourn was forgotten entirely.