Editor’s note: Editorials represent a view supported by the Wheaton Wire as an entity.
At this point in the school year, with the number of incidents that have occurred and the increasing animosity between Public Safety and students, it’s clear that something in the relationship between the two needs to change. The two questions that seem to be most prevalent are if policy changes that put Public Safety under tighter restrictions can be instituted, and if something can be done to improve relations between students and public safety.
As for the first question, policy changes seem to be out of the question. Currently, Public Safety has the right to enter a house for such a broad number of reasons that what may seem like a violation of privacy is actually not. The main reason for this policy is that the school is afraid of litigation caused by any incident in which Public Safety is restricted from intervening.
Although it may seem unlikely that the administration will alter alcohol and housing policies, change would be welcomed for several reasons.
The most changeable problem seems to be Wheaton’s policy for registering parties. Several students have pointed out that, due to the number of restrictions on registered parties (and therefore the number of ways the house throwing them can get in trouble), students who throw registered parties that are broken up by Public Safety can get in more trouble than students who throw unregistered parties that get busted. This works to delegitimize any incentive to register a party.
In addition, sometimes students are not allowed to register parties because they have not completed paperwork far enough in advance. If students try to register a party and it is not allowed because the paperwork was not turned in on time, it seems likely that these students will simply throw an unregistered party.
As for relations between students and Public Safety, several officers are new this year, and it is up to them to build strong working relationships with students, a process that naturally takes time. The fact that the Public Safety officers who broke up the a cappella performance at Slype earlier this semester were unaware that the evening is a Wheaton tradition is a prominent example of this fact.
At the Town Hall meeting, Senate voted to establish an ad-hoc committee, open to all students, of people who can make recommendations to the administration on potential policy changes. The ad hoc’s influence on policy will be greatly aided if SGA works to publicize its activities. This is a good step, and must not go to waste if change is to happen.