Plus, the New York Times on campus safety and security alerts as “the soundtrack of college life.”
Hide your kids, hide your wife, P-Safe has documented yet another campus intruder incident. This one’s different, weirder, and—thankfully—free of armed robbery. The intruder, an 18-year-old North Carolina man reportedly babbling at the mouth, was spotted running “at a full sprint and changing directions rapidly” near campus at 2:33 A.M. last Friday. He ran across Wash without glancing at traffic, according to Middletown Patch, while being chased by both a P-Safe car and a police officer on foot. That’s when shit got weird:
The officer ran after him on foot, the report says, as [Devin Jacob ] Hanaway ran up stairs to a second-floor apartment, was overcome by the officer and actively resisted being handcuffed. The officer said Hanaway was “sweating profusely” so he couldn’t hold him, and was 6-foot-2 inches tall and more than 200 pounds.
“I could hear the male talking in gibberish and it became apparent that he was under the influence of illicit substances,” the report details; Hanaway continued to fight handcuffing and was shocked with a Taser X26 in the back.
Instead of responding normally to tasing—with a cry of pain or a well-timed “Don’t tase me, bro!”—Hanaway continued running and was eventually bitten by a police dog:
“The taser had absolutely no effect on the male,” the report says, and he ran away toward a fence, where the officer stopped him and was then punched over the eye by Hanaway. He was released by the officer so he could surrender, the report says, but ran away again before he was stopped by a police dog and subsequently bit.
“After being tased and bit by a police canine,” the report says, “at no time did Hanaway ever yell, scream or complain of pain. Whatever substance he was under the influence of completely blocked any pain he may have felt.”
The report in question notes that Wesleyan “has recently been the site of numerous overnight burglaries and larcenies.” Presumably, this is referring to the pair of alarming on-campus robberies that took place in June and early July, as well as the relatively high-profile incident in the Nics last April. If there are more in recent memory, P-Safe hasn’t alerted us. Are robberies and trespassing actually becoming more frequent on campus? Or are we just more attuned? How will this impact Wesleyan’s already shaky relationship with the Middletown community? (As a relevant aside, it seems prudent to note that there was another drug-related trespassing incident near campus last spring. In this case, the “intruder” was a student. We are not guiltless; according to the Clery Center for Security on Campus, students perpetrate about 80% of campus crime.)
Interestingly, the New York Times ran a feature just last week on safety issues at various campuses nationwide, noting stories of students like Ohio State sophomore Sara Rosenberg, who “organized her friends into a posse of self-protection” to avoid walking home alone after dark. The University of Miami, meanwhile, is adding license-plate recognition software to its security smorgasbord. “With Virginia Tech held liable for failing to issue a timely warning in the 2007 shooting massacre, alerts are becoming part of the soundtrack of college life,” writer Aimee Lee Ball notes in the article, which went to print a few hours after last week’s horrific Aurora shooting. A cursory search through my inbox finds seven P-Safe alerts dating back to last October (excluding weather bulletins). That’s modest compared to Ohio State’s 20.
Of course, this is the New York Times, so Wesleyan gets a shout-out. Quoted in Ball’s article, Julia Black ’13 hints at recent incidents, as well as the town-gown tensions that result:
“There have been incidents where people from the wider community have shown up and caused problems,” said Julia Black, a senior at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. “There is that dynamic when you have an elite institution integrated into a community with more socioeconomic diversity. But in the age of smartphones, we learn pretty quickly if there’s any street we might want to avoid.”
When Ball’s article suggests that these issues don’t come up at Canadian universities, I thought immediately of Michael Moore’s visit north in Bowling for Columbine. As one college parent sums it up:
“When you take your kid on the tour, every school spends a lot of time talking about safety and security,” said Ellen Weber, an executive in Philadelphia who visited American, Temple and the University of Pittsburgh with her daughter, Rebecca. “Then we went up to McGill in Montreal, where nobody mentioned security. When I asked about it, someone said, ‘Oh, you must be from the States.’”
Wondering what it is about America that makes us obsessed with violence and crime, Moore concluded that we were “being pumped full of fear,” living in “an America living and breathing in fear.” And in the “age of smartphones,” we are being pumped full of fear more than ever—in real time. If Ball’s subjects are to be believed, it makes us safer. Or it makes us feel safer. Or it makes our parents feel safer. In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre (and Wesleyan’s own shooting death and evacuation), I’m glad for the alerts. But “You can be safe but not feel safe, and you can feel safe but not be safe,” says Gary J. Margolis, a former police chief at the University of Vermont. And Isn’t that the human condition?
Stay safe, Wesleyan. But don’t be scared. If there’s another robbery soon, we’ll pump you full of fear.