Security sux – vad – mcb

Veronica Devore

This year, LU security has been patrolling more often and more strictly, particularly in the small houses on campus. This includes formal group and theme houses as well as general lottery. Before diving into my own views on this issue, I think it is important to be clear on why this topic of discussion has come up.
There is a general feeling among students living in small houses that things have changed, and changed enough that the situation warrants a place in the student newspaper. The change did not initiate from the students; rather, the changes, and all the reactions to them, have occurred as effects of various decisions on the part of administrators. This, therefore, is a reflection; it is primarily a reactive rather than proactive discussion.
While security certainly is breaking up parties and pouring out drinks more regularly than they have done in the past, what is far more intrusive is the constant intimidating presence. Moreover, it is a presence intimidating to no immediate purpose, as I assume the goal of such a presence is to prevent certain kinds of behavior by means of fear rather than to deal directly with a real problem.
The reason small houses seem to be a friction point is a matter of bureaucratic language. Treating a small house of 11 people exactly the same in campus policy as a 171-person dorm is ludicrous when it comes to practice. When it’s only words, it makes perfect sense to treat the living room and kitchen of a small house like a dorm lounge or kitchen.
In reality, though, there is a quality of community that can be achieved in a small house setting precisely because of the differences, and that quality is encroached upon when security walks curtly through a kitchen where a few residents are talking and cooking dinner.
One root problem that jumps to my mind is a textbook-like execution of the job of security officer. Following the protocol to the last letter is a reasonable way to expect someone who hasn’t had extensive experience with a given situation or job to act. However, while reasonable, it is not sustainable when considering the potential that students have for helping security to perform their job.
The correct attitude for enforcers of policy to take toward students is not an adversarial one. Suspicion only breeds hostility and more suspicion. The only way to gain students’ respect and trust is to show them the same respect and trust. Unlike most of the world, idealism isn’t dead in us yet-it’ll work, you just have to be nice to us.
Community is a goal to which everyone at Lawrence strives. It’s one of our top selling points as a small residential liberal arts university-everyone knows everyone, or could if they wanted to.
Rules and regulations have their place, but to a large degree those technicalities are trumped by personal interactions, by real human contact. This is especially true of small houses, where it is not hard to know at least the face of everyone living there. The house living environment demands more of the students in terms of social and personal responsibility, and it is only fair–not to mention logical and in security’s best interest–to capitalize on that resource.
The best way to use a human resource such as this is to go about it in a human way. Maintaining an absolute and inflexible position is no way to go about personal interaction, and it is no way to get others to help you. While perhaps a bit trite, learning to work with people rather than against them is the only way to get real results.