A question of safety

Sara Kozlowski

The weekend before spring break, I was at York Hill with my car and needed to pass through the security gate to pick someone up. I held up my QCard for public safety to see, but kept my window rolled up, as I normally would. I expected to get a nod and wave in response, which is what typically happens, but this time I was stopped and questioned on where I was going. The public safety officer then proceeded to fill out a 20-minute parking pass with my name, room number and the time I arrived.

The reason I received the pass, he said, was because other public safety officers were currently writing tickets and he didn’t want me to get in trouble. I was confused because this is the first time I received a 20-minute parking pass all semester. I wondered: what is the purpose of the passes if public safety doesn’t enforce the rules regarding them? It doesn’t seem safe or logical.

I didn’t give it much more thought until I found out University Primetime recently honored Quinnipiac as the No. 1 safest college in America of 2014. Many students proudly posted the link to the article all over social media and it is very likely that Public Safety is quite proud of the award, as they should be. However, there seems to be a flaw in the ranking system.

Quinnipiac is by no means a dangerous or a violent place, but naming it the safest college in the entire United States seems a bit unrealistic considering how easy it is for anyone to get on campus. Driving through any security gate usually does not require anything beyond a QCard and, sometimes, Public Safety doesn’t even ask for that.

When a class lets out on the Mount Carmel campus, often the security officer at the booth by South Lot doesn’t even check QCards, but directs traffic instead, not paying as much attention to the people they’re letting drive onto campus. Even during slower hours when public safety has more time to stop and talk to each person driving through, there is never a need to state who you are, where you’re going or why. This has never seemed safe, but it’s better than being hassled every time students go out to get groceries. Or is it?

In the beginning of the year, Public Safety was much more consistent with stopping cars to write passes for students driving through security gates on both the Mount Carmel campus and the York Hill campus alike. But these 20-minute parking passes have halted almost entirely. Public safety never keeps track of how long students park either, which could give potential intruders plenty of time to do what they’re set out to do.

It seems farfetched and crazy, but nowadays, it is quite realistic that someone will eventually try to do some bad things to Quinnipiac students and/or the campus itself. I don’t need to provide a list of all the shootings that have occurred in the past few years to make my point. Sadly, universities are at risk and if a school allows people to move in and out of the campus freely with little investigation on who they are and what they’re doing, then those universities are going to be at an even higher risk.

Students don’t need an interrogation, but Public Safety should be checking all QCards every time a person approaches the security gate to prevent letting in the wrong people. How can Public Safety be considered enforcers of university rules if there is no consistent enforcement regarding traffic control? Many students do not and will not obey parking rules if they know there’s a good chance Public Safety isn’t going to do anything about it.

Hamden police, however, probably can’t get away with enforcing only some of the laws. Imagine how dangerous the world would be if police officers were only sometimes consistent with law enforcement. So many problems would arise, which is why we can’t have Public Safety sometimes checking QCards or sometimes giving out 20-minute parking passes. Maybe Quinnipiac was named No.1 safest school in the country, but if Public Safety is inconsistent, then we can’t be as safe as we think.