In its first meeting of the term last Thursday, Student Senate had a light agenda that sparked surprise and intense discussion amongst senators. Campus Safety Director John Schlaf spoke first before the chamber and described a series of break-ins that occurred across campus over winter break.
“My presence here tonight is somewhat in response from you all and that is just to update you about some incidents that took place on campus during break, and serves as a good reminder of some basic safety issues,” Schlaf said.
According to Schlaf, the Beta Theta Pi and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity houses as well as 270 W. Tompkins Street were each entered by an unknown number of individuals over break. In the cases of the fraternity houses, students in residence over break encountered the individuals while they were inside, at which point the individuals left and no theft occurred. In the Tompkins Street incident, the individuals confronted one of the residents and took one item. In all cases, the individuals entered through unlocked doors late at night.
If any students find themselves in a similar situation in the future, Schlaf instructed students to, “Call the Galesburg police. There are more of them and they are more available and fast. Don’t try and take enforcement action on your own. I do not want to see anyone get hurt.”
Then Dean of Students Xavier Romano took the floor.
“Tonight I am here to talk to you about incidents that have happened here on campus,” Dean Romano said. “Not hypothetically, vandalism has happened here in CFA not once but several times.”
As the Dean explained, starting at the very end of last term, four specific incidents of vandalism had occurred in the studio spaces of CFA. In one instance, students such as Senator Heather Kopec lost artwork they had made.
“I am a ceramics major,” Kopec said, “and this is the second time we have had to clean this up. Two thirds of all my final work was ruined last term. I don’t feel safe in the ceramics studio at night.”
In response to these events, Romano brought a difficult question before Senate.
“We have students who have been very affected by this,” Romano said. “What if someone was throwing a brick through Post or some other residence hall? We have joined the ranks of the real world and we need safety and security. We are not looking for a vote. We need to act, we want your input. Do we bring in cameras? Brighten the lights? How many cameras? What if a resident hall gets hit? What advice would you give [President] Roger [Taylor], myself and the other the other Deans?”
In the course of the discussion, Romano gave the Safety and Services Committee the duty of gathering student concerns as to security issues on campus, and to give that input to the administration to help in their decision. While there was much dissent over the issue of cameras as a whole, most senators appeared to understand the need for cameras. The issue will continue to be debated at the senior staff meeting next Tuesday.
Student Senate sessions are held every Thursday at 7 p.m., and are held in the Round Room of CFA.