Editorial: Following-up on Safety Alerts

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 7.03.35 PM by The Editorial Board

Skidmore College vigilantly addresses safety concerns on this campus. Students are often promptly alerted when a harmful incident has occurred, and we are usually aware of when our safety is in jeopardy. According to Skidmore’s annual Safety Report, every time an incident is “considered a threat to the students or employees,” the college issues out a “timely warning.” However, after students receive that initial notification, the Editorial Board finds that the updates tend to end there. We believe that there is a lack of follow-up from the administration to students regarding issues of safety in the aftermath.

For example, what happened to the armed criminal on campus two weeks ago? Why did he come to Skidmore in the first place? Considering the amount of rumors that spread at the time of the lockdown, the silence from the administration after the fact has fallen heavily.

In another recent instance, two students were assaulted on campus about a month ago. Campus Safety alerted students of the attack in a curt email, but we have heard nothing since that initial email. What happened to the assailants?

Sometimes, after a sexual assault has been reported, fliers are posted throughout campus, alerting the student body to the date and location of said incident. What happens to those perpetrators though? And what about those thefts of laptops from dorm rooms? Were those thieves ever caught?

How are we to know that any of these concerns are being addressed, and consequently, how can we as a student body feel safe in our own community?

These are the kinds of questions that the school leaves us in the dark to speculate. To remedy this, the Board asks that at regular intervals after the incident that prompted the initial alert, the student body receives an update with information on the kinds of safety concerns listed above; perhaps two weeks after the event, then a month and so forth until the problem has been resolved.

We recognize that in many situations, the College cannot legally release details, or in some cases, they just don't have details at all. Furthermore, there can be a need to respect privacy, particularly in cases of sexual assault. We do not necessarily ask that all explicit details be released. We would just appreciate knowing if, when, and how any progress has been made to ensure that our campus is a safer community. Even a note stating that the College is still looking into the matter would be appreciated.

Beyond assuring students of their safety, knowing that safety concerns on campus are taken seriously and handled effectively would encourage more victims to feel comfortable reporting incidents, thus ensuring a safer environment. Currently, the amount of sexual assaults reported is far below its actual occurrence rate, with about 60% going unreported, according to the national average. If Skidmore proved that coming forth with an assault would ensure justice, or at least demonstrated that they will actively handle the issue, students would perhaps feel safer in reporting crimes.

The board is not asking that students be alerted to every crime, but if a matter is serious enough to elicit a text, email or poster on every door, students ought to also be reassured that the party responsible is being held accountable. Keeping us in the dark will only generate harmful rumors, fear and a sense of vulnerability. Even a short email could help alleviate some of those concerns.

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