Mills College campus is threatened by lax security and recent rash of thefts

By
October 16, 2003

Some recent incidents have prompted us to re-evaluate the
question of safety on campus.

On Oct. 10, the Weekly had $200 stolen out of the cash box,
which was locked inside the Editor-In-Chief’s office. The next day,
a Mary Atkins student had her wallet stolen, while she was
showering in the Mary Atkins lounge. The student is convinced that
it was an inside job, since there were only two other students in
the building, whom she believed would not have taken her money.
Furthermore, only two other parties have access to the
Editor-in-Chief’s office, Public Safety and house-keeping, leading
us to also believe that this was an inside job. These incidents
raised a litany of questions for us about safety at Mills.

One question centers around the non-resident visiting hours,
which basically makes Mills a 24-hour open campus. A recent
conversation with a Public Safety officer prompted us to really
stop and think about why Mills, a small community with very little
activity, is open 24 hours.

Why can non-residents visit Mills at any hour and only be asked
their names and their whereabouts on campus between midnight and
6:00 a.m.?

The Weekly thinks that the campus should be closed after 10:00
p.m. After this time, visitors should only be allowed on campus
after a phone call from a Public Safety officer from the gate to
the person who is being visited to confirm that they are indeed
expecting a visitor. Several students, including people on staff
have expressed that the after-midnight rules for non-residents are
not upheld as long as there is a female in the car.

For instance, in one of the stories we ran in our last issue,
one female student who was returning to campus with two male
companions noticed that when the officer saw that she was in the
car, they were just waved through by him. There was no questioning
of their whereabouts from the guard on-duty.

So, this brings us to the second critique of Public Safety: the
lack of consistency. Several students have complained that the
guards at the gate are inconsistent when it comes to following
procedure.

On Oct. 10, one student and several of her friends received a
ride into Rockridge. Her two friends had bought tickets that day
for the Mills Van to get back to Mills at 8:45 p.m. that night. The
students, three freshwomen new to the Bay Area, waited to for the
Mills Van to pick them up at the designated time. However, the van
did not come. One of the students then called Public Safety for
help. Two different Public Safety officers took the calls and only
one actually understood the possible danger three young girls
stranded in an unfamiliar area, could face and offered to pay for a
cab ride back to campus. Furthermore, while one officer was aware
of the new schedule, it turned out most of the Public Safety
officers on-duty that day were not.

Another area of inconsistency can be found in the lack of
training the Public Safety officers receive. With the exception of
a few, well-trained individuals, it has been brought to our
attention (and this is also outwardly noticeable) that most Public
Safety officers do not have enough training.

We were told by a source within the Public Safety department,
that up to three years ago, a person applying for a Public Safety
position underwent intense scrutiny in the examination of their
references and resumes. However, this practice is no longer in
place. It appears that anyone can be a Public Safety officer
now.

Our source also told us that Public Safety officers are not
trained to even handle basic domestic disturbances. Every time the
Mills community comes face-to-face with a disturbance in security,
whether it be violence near Mills or thefts on-campus, Public
Safety comes out with a slew of new improvements; from new security
cameras; to photographing every license plate that comes on to
campus; to recording foot traffic coming on to campus from
MacArthur Blvd; to reinforcing the non-resident visiting hours
between the hours of 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Now, there is talk of a new card access system, which will allow
authorized users to access various buildings. New safety
technological measures aside, how much can we depend on Public
Safety in the event of a major disturbance at Mills? Let’s not
forget the vulnerable location of the college, where murders and
beatings are happening right outside our gates. This is not to
perpetuate the negative image that follows Oakland in the media.
But, even our unnamed source thought it foolish that we do not have
more security.

While Public Safety is quick to inform Mills of all the “latest
new technological measures” they are making to ensure our safety,
why not turn the focus onto proper training of the staff? Our
source informed us that there needs to be a change in the sort of
“safety” that Public Safety provides for a campus full of women. We
are not dismissing the work and new measures that Public Safety has
implemented, but more direct attention needs to go toward the staff
to make sure they ensure a strong unified stance. After all, our
safety is in question here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mills College campus is threatened by lax security and recent rash of thefts was published on October 16, 2003 in Editorial

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