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By Max Smith
Feb 21, 2013
Back in early October I had an unfortunate experience with a security guard on my campus. This post is an expanded version of when I originally wrote about it the next day on my Tumblr.
Due to my on-campus apartment’s new security procedure if I want to have a guest over (or even just have someone pick me up from my apartment) I have to walk down to the main entrance to sign them in. I wouldn’t have a problem with this except you only have to do this at night. Meaning if I want to go out to eat with a friend at midnight I have to either
- walk alongside the main road (this is the long way and takes about 15 minutes) and risk being hit by a car due to no sidewalk
- or walk down the secluded dark path (no lights or streetlights or emergency phone) surrounded by trees and other areas where you can’t see if someone is hiding. (Edit: Since this incident security lights have been placed along the path.)
I thought this was a bit ridiculous, but it didn’t really bother me until one night. My boyfriend at the time drove from Nashville to come visit me. He didn’t get to campus until around one, so the security checkpoint was in place. By the time I got to the checkpoint I had thought of a few ideas for a better system or a few improvements. (The procedure is that if you have a student ID they let you in, but if not someone has to sign them in. The reasoning behind this is that only non-students cause problems in the apartments [Not true.])
I tried to talk to the security guard about my observations and how they could be implemented. I asked who I would talk to about it. He said it was none of my business and wouldn’t even tell me how to get in contact with his superior. He was incredibly rude, so the conversation got heated. He insinuated I was lazy. He did not care about the risk. He said that I should just not have guests if I I had a problem with their “security” system. Three quotes from him that night:
- “I’ve worked security at ETSU for years and all the rape claims were lies.”
- “None of this happened until Obama took office.” [“This” meaning fights in the apartments and shootings in Campus Ridge, a nearby apartment complex.]
- “I served in Iraq, so I know real problems.” [After I tried to explain the 1 in 4 women will be raped on a college campus statistic.]
There are so many reasons this is problematic. I left this conversation in tears. I’m not the only student who has problems with campus security.
One young woman I know asked public safety for a ride or escort across campus (There are signs all over ETSU that advertise this service.). The officer on duty called her lazy. He then transferred her to a non-working phone number. She ended up walking by herself. A couple guys in a car shouted sexual things at her, but luckily they were just hecklers and nothing came of it.
In a Diversity Educators meeting one black male student told us about his experience with Campus Security where the guard threatened to throw all of his friend “in jail if he got a single noise complaint from them.” This was just for pulling up to the apartment complex in a car full of young black men.
I feel that educating university staff and security on racism and sexual violence should be mandatory. I also feel that RAs should be educated on what to do if a resident tells them they have been raped, harrassed, or discriminated. Our campus claims to be very progressive and even with yearly events like “Civility Week” we have a very long way to go.