Letter to the Editor: Response to ‘Security breach in DSC brings campus shortcomings to light’
I found your recent editorial on the “Security breach in [the] DSC” to be a bit shortsighted and unnecessarily disparaging to the patrons of public transportation. While I agree that parking is a nightmare on campus and that students pay more than their fair share of tuition and fees, the idea that those funds should provide the fees so that all students can enjoy what you refer to as a “safe parking spot” is not practical given that the spots available for an additional fee are limited in number and could not possibly accommodate the entire commuting student body. Perhaps a better idea would be to ensure that our existing parking areas are made safe.
Also, your comment about “the shady characters one might find on the [sic] public transit” was pretty appalling. As a student of very limited means who receives no support from family, my jaw dropped when I read your words. The idea that the bus stop should be anywhere but the center of campus is ludicrous. Should people of limited means be further inconvenienced because you find certain patrons unsavory? Furthermore, in this age of excessive wastefulness and accelerating climate change, those who use public transit should be applauded, not made to feel like second class citizens or like they are a blight on the heart of campus. To take it one step further, I feel that UALR should incentivize students to use public transit. It is socially responsible, it would set a good example to students and the community, and it would help improve the very parking situation which you bemoan.
I also disagree with your suggestion that we should have more security cameras. I don’t like to be under surveillance whenever it is not absolutely necessary. It isn’t that I intend to do harm, rather I am against it in principle. We are an institution of higher education. The presence of cameras would suggest that they are necessary to maintain order. I would like to believe that educated people are compelled to do the right thing regardless of whether or not anyone else is watching (and whether or not that is overly idealistic, it is still the right image for UALR to portray). Benjamin Franklin once remarked that “those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” I agree with him wholeheartedly and do not feel that my security is contingent upon the sacrifice of privacy; it does not have to be one or the other. While your experience was certainly unfortunate, the solutions you propose are equally so.
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Thank you for your response, Bruce. I see your points, and I apologize if my language was not sensitive enough to everyone in the community. However, I assure you that my decision to publish the editorial was a judicious one and I (as well as several staff members, friends and family) felt it necessary to express my concerns with the situation.
I do not condemn public transportation, nor would I want to see the bus stops removed. I think it is commendable for people use it, and I explained that I understand it is a necessity to our campus. However, in my three years at UALR, I have seen more people at the bus stops who do not appear to be students or faculty than otherwise. In fact, this instance was not the first time a homeless individual has wandered into my office. It happened to me about a month ago in the middle of the day (so I was naturally less concerned since the campus was open and active). That person may have walked onto campus as opposed to riding the bus, but I saw the man who came into my office recently get off the bus earlier in the evening. What troubles me is that DPS does not appear to be monitoring these locations well after dark, when it is most crucial for them to do so.
Regarding the security cameras, I am not suggesting that they are placed in every corner on campus, but at least near entries and exits. Had this man not been docile and simply came in and harmed or killed me, no one would have known until possibly the next day. He would have been long gone by then, and there would be no way to identify him quickly unless there happened to be a witness (which in my case, there wasn’t). I find something wrong with that, and do not see that lack of security in most public places.
I am not concerned with monitoring the “educated people” of our community, or even the uneducated for that matter, every second of the day. I trust my peers to use good judgment and do not feel threatened by them. Rather, I would hope our school would take further precautions to be aware of and deter people who should not be on campus, especially after it is closed to the public. I rarely (if ever) see security vehicles or personnel when I am walking to my car at night, so I can only assume they are parked elsewhere or at the station. If that’s the case and they are simply waiting on something bad to happen rather than trying to physically prevent it, then I hope my editorial will express the need for some improvement of preventive security. Whether that prevention is active (by having more officers present on campus at night) or passive (by monitoring high-traffic areas via cameras) is not up to me, but either would be an improvement to the current state of things, in my opinion.
I do not feel that taking steps to be safer will hurt UALR’s public image. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want themselves or their loved ones to attend a safe campus. I think its reputation would be tarnished much more if something tragic happened in the absence of standard security than if the campus were to implement those precautions. If UALR wants a reputation for being safe, accommodating, competitive, modern, etc., then it should at least ensure the safety of its community.
I apologize if I came across as shortsighted or if I offended public transportation patrons. I certainly do not wish to make anything more complicated for them or you. I hope that this response will suffice for my oversight.