Trying to maximize my educational experience at West Chester University, I voluntarily choose to attend a piano recital at the WCU School of Music on the 24 of April. Before the concert, I parked my car in the Swope Hall parking lot in anticipation for the event. Upon returning to my car, I found a parking ticket on my windshield marked 7:20 p.m. While I do accept responsibility for parking in a lot which I do not posses a permit for, I asked myself: “What are the priorities of Public Safety at West Chester University?”After four years at WCU, I have found that campus public safety excels at the tasks of writing parking tickets and trying to act tough when a student enters the dorms on a Friday night. When it comes to truly protecting the students, the enthusiasm of task completion is replaced by failure and incompetence. Last week, a West Chester resident was shot and killed at his house. After the shooting, the suspect remained at large. Rather than increasing security during a time of uncertainty, WCU public safety opted to stay with the status quo and hope for the best. Unfortunately, this negligent attitude led to misfortune on campus as one of our classmates was assaulted by the suspect. As a South Campus resident, I frequently see bike cops patrolling the area. Where were these officers while such an attack took place? Again, public safety officers followed their status quo in socializing, flirting/harassing female residence and questioning any student that blinks the wrong way because it might be a symbol of “disrespect.”
This is not the first time we have seen this unit react in such a nonchalant manner. Until recently, WCU music students were victimized by persistent instrument theft by a single party. Over a two-year period of time, tens of thousands of dollars worth of instruments were stolen from the building that sits adjacent to the public safety building. In addition to being in such close proximity to these crimes, public safety had access to video footage of the exact sections of the building in which the crimes took place. This is to say that not only did public safety fail to recognize a suspicious figure entering the building at awkward times, but neglected to react when video footage of theft was present. When victimized students inquired about the progress regarding the status of the investigation, they received non- responsive answers for two years as no tangible solution was offered. When the suspect finally was captured, public safety was praised. After talking to victimized colleagues, one response to the arrest was consistent: “Too little, too late.” In response to this reaction, students received the excuse that public safety did not have the means of finding the perpetrator. I personally find it ironic that the University is entertaining the idea of spending $100,000 for a statue of a ram while funds are not available to keep students and their possessions safe.
While tangible threats face the campus of West Chester University on a daily basis, our law enforcement unit remains to be concerned with writing tickets and trying to act tough when dealing with student inquiries regarding those tickets.
It is easy to complete the portion of law enforcement when danger is no threat.
The old clich states “We find ones true character when the chips are down.”
When public safety’s chips are down, they show incompetence and a supreme ability to blame others for failure. Under current situations, I ask myself and my fellow classmates: Do you feel safe under those who are supposed to protect us?
Marvin Kierstead is a student at West Chester University.