After a series of appropriately chaotic events, we think we finally have some reporting to do. This article concerns the so-called “shelter in place” drill, the subject of a saga of emails from Director of Public Safety Scott Rohde. Ten of our staff have contributed to the reporting in this article, and their contributions are much appreciated.
Our first inklings that something was astir came on Monday, February 6, 2017, when Scott Rohde sent an all-campus email about a “shelter in place” drill that would be happening on Thursday of that week:
Smooth deep house, sexy techno.
Opening set by Public Safety
Starts at 11.
Date: Friday, November 6
Time: 11:00 PM – 2:00 AM
“I saw some deer on Indian Hill recently. They were cute…and had their heads on.” —Laura Werle ’15
Here’s some weird news for you late night workers: This time yesterday, a deer head (no body) was spotted in the parking lot behind Exley. This isn’t the first time a deer head was spotted around Exley. In fact, on December 5, 2012, EXACTLY TWO YEARS AGO (!!!!??) a deer head was found at the bottom of the stop sign outside of Exley.
The 2012 deer head, however, was taxidermic (the origins weren’t found), whereas this one was apparently fresh. We don’t have any pictures (thank goodness…I’d forgotten how cute deer are until I googled the image above), but it really did happen!
Jed Siebert ’16, who witnessed the deer head, explains the scene:
Some breaking news from aspiring student reporter Tim Tim ’16:
Earlier today, beginning at approximately 12:30pm, a multi-car traffic jam on the path between Albritton and Usdan left drivers and pedestrians alike stranded. While the sound of honking car horns and road rage fueled argumentation was easily audible from Foss Hill, the cause of the unusual jam remains unclear. Public Safety reportedly moved to open extra pedestrian lanes on College Row in order to ease traffic flow, but the office was unavailable for direct comment. One student bystander observed, “Man, these kids are going to be really late for brunch if this traffic doesn’t clear out soon!”
Exactly a year ago, the Diversity University forum was held to address diversity at Wesleyan in light of hateful comments on the ACB, the use of race in Public Safety Reports, and allegations of unnecessary use of force by Public Safety. The conversation also touched on many other points and became a three hour-long panel/discussion with over 400 students, faculty, and staff in attendance.
These were a few of the most salient points from the forum, summed up by pyrotechnics in his post from last year:
- We’ve got problems. Big, scary institutional and individual problems and shortcomings. We all do. Every one of us.
- There are a lot of people who really give a shit. Not only was this evident in attendance, but in the words, actions, and thoughts of many. This carries from those brave students who shared their own horrifying stories all the way to President Roth at the helm of the University, who remarked: “I take this very seriously. It’s so corrosive. It undermines the very fabric of this university. This can’t go on. … If we have screwed up, we will fix it. What you’re describing to me wrecks the University’s mission.”
- Dialogue is important, and this kind of forum needs to happen regularly, but actions speak louder than words. Right now, there is a real limit to the trust that our community affords itself and the administration to actually address these issues. Ostensible, and more importantly, tangible progress in institutionally healing our community is necessary to shore up that lack of trust.
The dialogue continued again this year with the Privilege and Policy forums, which happened over a five part series in the span of a month. Student Body President Nicole Updegrove ‘14 organized the series, and 1-4 Wesleyan students facilitated each talk. The goals were to more thoroughly address diversity issues, for a wide range of students to participate, and to explore potential policy solutions. The conclusive points from this series were similar to those of the Diversity University forum from last year, namely that these issues are incredibly complex and important, that they affect everyone, and thusly, we need to talk about them.
The title of this post is not meant rhetorically. It’s a serious question: who killed Spring Fling’s vibe?
Was it the student attendees, some inebriated and inconsiderate, who jumped over the barrier when the floor of the rink was at capacity and allegedly behaved drunkenly and belligerently when asked to back up? (“Some students ought to be ashamed of themselves,” observed a witness who asked to remain anonymous.) Was it the massive security detail (Public Safety and CSC) who guarded every nook and cranny with the graveness of airport TSA agents and reportedly physically abused one student and verbally harassed another? Was it the organizers (Spring Fling Committee or otherwise) who neglected to inform students in advance that they would be turned away if they arrived late, even while other students were visibly exiting, and flipped on the lights shortly before Ab-Soul’s set, possibly to punish students for failing to obey orders that were largely unintelligible over the ice rink’s cavernous din? Or was it the fucking weather, or maybe Spurrier-Snyder Rink itself, which has never seemed like a less suitable venue for a free, unticketed performance by one of the fastest rising rappers in the world in 2013? At least it wasn’t Kendrick Lamar, who, despite subpar conditions and acoustics better suited to a high school gym, performed “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Money Trees,” and other highlights from Good Kid, M.A.A.D City with admirable energy and charisma, wooing throngs of adoring fans who knew precisely how to yell out “Drank!” or “Ya bish!” on cue and reportedly popping over to Warren after the show, decked out in a Wes sweatshirt.
Officers “were using a cell phone to take pictures of the student where they live through a window.”
WFSB 3 Connecticut
Though details are scarce, students have been understandably shaken by the recent news that two Public Safety officers have been fired for “the surreptitious viewing and possibly the video recording of a female student in her residence.” The fact that this follows closely on other alleged cases of Public Safety misconduct, ranging from theft to physically assaulting a student, certainly doesn’t help.
A WFSB Eyewitness News video report on the incident offers some clarity as to how this took place. According to the report, the officers were using a cell phone through a campus window to record the student:
Sources told Eyewitness News this was not a sophisticated setup. In fact, they were believed to be using something that most of us already have – a smartphone.
The public safety officers were using a cell phone to take pictures of the student where they live through a window without that individual knowing it.
Here’s how they were caught:
Have thoughts about recent incidents involving P-Safe? Head to the Daniel Family Commons right now.
As ehc reported less than half an hour ago, two Public Safety officers have just been reported and fired for apparently viewing and possibly videotaping a female student in her residence. This follows on a long chain of recent incidents involving and sparking tensions between students and Public Safety officers this academic year.
Meanwhile, the administration has hired a University Public Safety Review Committee for an independent review of P-Safe at Wesleyan. According to a recent email from Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts, “The assessment will explore whether the Office of Public Safety has adopted and implemented an appropriate campus public safety model, based on our environment and campus expectations.” The reviewer is Margolis Healy, a “nationally reputable firm that specializes in campus safety and security” that has “provided similar services for dozens of other universities and colleges throughout North America.”
If you’re a Wesleyan student, “you are cordially invited to meet with Margolis Healy representatives to share any thoughts or questions you might have about Public Safety at Wesleyan in an open student session to be held on April 30 from 7–8 p.m. in the Daniel Family Commons in the Usdan Center.” You read correctly: that’s happening right now. Talk about timing. In case you can’t make it, Lesanjuan, Solomon, and I will be liveblogging the proceedings. Click past the jump.
Public Safety has had an interesting year at best. First alleged racial profiling during homecoming weekend, then allegations of Public Safety assaulting a Wesleyan student, and in January, an officer was fired for allegedly stealing equipment from faculty offices. This was followed by today’s email (see below) in which two Public Safety officers were involved in viewing and possibly video recording a female student in her residence. The two offending officers have since been fired. According to an email from Dean Mike Whaley, Wesleyan “is cooperating with Middletown police in an ongoing investigation.”
Following last semester’s forum, President Roth ’78 had an independent review look into Public Safety’s current practices and relationship with the University. Tonight, from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. in the Daniel Family Commons (third floor of Usdan), you can attend an open student session and meet with the representatives of the independent company conducting the review, Margolis Healy. It’s some pretty strikingly appropriate timing, considering today’s email report.
Watch a student-produced documentary about recent tensions involving Public Safety here.
Date: Tuesday, April 30 (today)
Place: Daniel Family Commons
Read past the jump for the full email.
Image c/o Shannon Welch ’14 and the Wesleyan Argus.
On Wednesday night, students, faculty, and staff gathered in Tischler Hall of the Exley Science Center for the second Diversity University forum of the year. This program, entitled “Diversity University: In the Classroom and Beyond,” was a follow-up to last semester’s forum, “In Theory and In Practice.”
From the very start, it was clear that the atmosphere of this forum was very different from the first one. Not only were there fewer people in attendance, the emotional level, though high, was distinctly more subdued. Clearly this time of year is particularly busy for Wesleyan students, and I can only imagine that that was a major factor in keeping the numbers down. But there was also not the same feeling of urgency, the immediate need for such a gathering—which, all in all, is probably a good thing.
Last fall’s forum was organized in the wake of a series of upsetting incidents of attacks on students, and subsequent issues of racism, targeting, and exclusion that arose from conversations, Public Safety reports, and WesACB threads. In Wednesday’s forum, while there was an expression of similar concerns and issues of diversity, but there was not the same shocking outpouring of powerful emotion.