Students surprised by unannounced, increased security

By on May 2, 2012
Starting last Thursday afternoon and continuing through the weekend, security increased its efforts in preparation for May Weekend by subjecting students to bag and trunk searches if they were walking across or driving onto campus.

In last week’s Chronicle article, Chief of Security & Safety David Barger said security would treat last weekend as any other weekend because the university does not recognize May Weekend.

“Security was heightened a bit after the article that was published in last week’s Chronicle,” Barger said. “[The article] said that a number of students were getting geared up for the weekend, T-shirts, this that and other things. So now we look at that and go ‘whoa, maybe we do need a few more officers here’ because of that.”

According to students, security presence was not the same. Instead, security spent the weekend checking students’ bags and car trunks, telling students who were outside to pour out their cups.

Sophomores Brian Blake and John Daly were walking to their residence halls on Bobcat Way returning from class Thursday night and were stopped by security, who searched their backpacks.

“I understand that the Constitution doesn’t apply to us; we sign our rights away when we said we would come here because it’s a private institution, but consistency would be a little appreciated along with a little bit of probable cause,” Blake said. “I understand they have the right to do whatever they want, but I don’t see the reason for it.

“There needs to be a good student-security-administration relationship, without that I feel like you don’t have any school community.”

Barger reaffirmed on Tuesday that security followed its normal procedures this weekend, treating it like any other weekend.

“We do this from time to time through both semesters, but it doesn’t seem to draw as much attention because I think it’s that whole now urban legend of what May Weekend is, or what it was,” Barger said.

Hamden police also heightened off-campus surveillance to “keep the good reputation intact,” Barger said.

“That went on last year during the same time, that same weekend,” Barger said. “The only thing that we did that was significantly different was we instituted the bicycles.”

The security performances were not different on both residential campuses, according to Barger.

“I think the real difference that you’re looking at is there is no one on this campus who’s 21 years old,” Barger said. “Some RAs are 21, but none of the students are.”

Approximately two-thirds of York Hill residents are 21 years old or older, according to Barger. Those residents may possess alcohol, but they cannot walk around with it.

York Hill residents were encouraged by security to drink in the residence halls, only if they are 21 years old or older, according to Barger.

“[Security told] the students over at Westview and Eastview and Townhouses because they’re over 21, so by the rules of residential life, being a senior, their rules say ‘yes, you can have alcohol in your rooms but you can’t drink them out in the common areas nor can you drink them outside,’ because you can’t have any open containers outside of alcoholic beverages,” Barger said.

Rumors spread around campus that security was searching #MayWeekend on Twitter during the weekend; however, that was absolutely false, Barger said.

“We did not monitor any social sites. To be perfectly frank, [we] had students come to us. Students were concerned and told us about it, yes, but we didn’t research anything. We even had RAs who were somewhat concerned about what they say on Twitter, so they brought those things to our attention, and we had concerned students bring those things to our attention,” Barger said. “Was there more than one student that came to us with concerns about what they say on Twitter and Facebook? Yes. But we did not solicit those, they came to us.”

Security followed the policies that are in the student handbook, which states alcohol may not be consumed in public even if students are over the age of 21.

“If you’re walking around outside with it, we just make you dump it out. If you’re a student 21 years and older, you’re not supposed to have it outside,” Barger said. “If you are under 21, we seize the alcohol and we document it with an officer and residential life. Then all those found with alcohol will be called in for a hearing.”

There was more alcohol coming into campus this past weekend compared to other weekends, Barger said.

“There were a large number of students with alcohol,” Barger said. “I would almost venture to say that there were more students with alcohol than we would normally find.”

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About Katherine Rojas

Editor-in-Chief
Email: editor@quchronicle.com
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Year: 2014
Major: Print journalism