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Jimmy Gets Carv'd Up: Jimmy Jones Discusses Safety and Responsibility

By Carver Diserens
On February 3, 2009

Carver Diserens: After the most recent security issue concerning trespassers in Jones and given the economic climate, it seems that we are not going to be able to expand the reach of Campus Safety. Do we need to start thinking differently about how we as students act and how Campus Safety functions?

Jimmy Jones: I don't think that looking at how Campus Safety functions is the right perspective. We will use last night (Wednesday, January 28th) as a teaching moment. This is an educational institution and as I get older, I think that most of the important life lessons are learned outside of the classroom, laboratory and library. What did we learn? We learned that two individuals got into a residence hall. Now, they didn't have codes or cards and they didn't break in. So what we know is that someone either put a brick in the door or politely held the door for someone that they did not know.



It is a fact for urban and non-urban institutions that students, very often thinking that they are acting in a friendly way to their fellow students, will let people into their residence hall. This is not just a problem for Trinity, this is a problem at every school I know. If you're in [Dean of Students] Fred Alford's shoes, you just don't know what it is that you're supposed to do. You don't want students to be rude, but by the same token, these two individuals got into the building because someone let them in - there was no break-in.



What about the bathroom situation? Looking back at when I was your age, I suppose I might think about shortcuts the same way that you people do. Nowadays, putting a piece of tape over the lock because you don't want to go through the trouble of typing in the code is probably a mistake. The other mistake is that there was a 27-minute differential from the time that the incident occurred and when the call was first made to Campus Safety. Now, the Campus Safety people are so professional that they cordoned the area off in five minutes after the call, but they can't cordon something off when they don't know there is an incident. So, increasing the number of Campus Safety officers could not have prevented those two characters from getting into the residence hall; the only people who can prevent it are the students. We are not about to start frisking people on campus if they aren't white males with blonde hair and blue eyes. We are not about to cordon off the entire campus.



CD: Has there been any thought about having checkpoints at certain entrances around campus?



JJ: There are very few schools in America that are prison-like in that regard. The tradeoff is, does one run the risk of having people walk through your campus who are not members of your community and may be up to mischief? I think you do run that risk if you're part of an urban institution. When you graduate in May (if I sign your diploma) and move to New York, you will not find a neighborhood there with a moat around it, 18-foot-high fences and guards. There is no such place. Thinking that you're going to live four years inside a bubble, it's certainly not going to help you when you move out of here to fill in the blank. You won't start letting people into your apartment that you don't know; the residence hall is your house, it's your home. We do have these guys on surveillance cameras but because of the angle at which they were in the door, the police could do some height checks but their faces were away from the camera, so that's about all we know.



CD: You touched on this; it's impossible to know everyone on campus, so are we as students forced to slam the door in someone's face and tell them to get their I.D. card out?



JJ: Well that's the tradeoff. We run the risk of appearing untoward, if not rude. I wish the world were so, that the mores would allow one to be polite and hold the door for everyone. But every time I have had to deal with thefts or other crime at Trinity and the other schools I've worked at, the number of times a student has let someone in versus actual break-ins is probably a ratio of ten to one. Only the students can stop this, it has to be a campus-wide initiative.


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