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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students and Public Safety bond over ice cream

Published: November 13, 2014
Section: News

The Brandeis Department of Public Safety hopes to become more familiar with the Brandeis student body through events like this Thursday’s ice cream social, according to Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan. The event, part of this week’s “Kindness Day” series of events, was organized by Callahan and Student Union President Sneha Walia ’15.

Walia and Callahan had brainstormed the idea for weeks before Callahan suggested an ice cream social, according to Walia. “We thought Kindness Day would be perfect timing [for the event],” she said. “Luckily, the Kindness Day people were totally on board.” Sodexo laid out a selection of flavors and toppings, along with utensils, that guests were encouraged to take from before sitting at tables and interacting with Public Safety officers. Around 30 students attended the event, which was held in Upper Sherman.

For most Brandeis students, Public Safety is “only represented by officers who have shut down parties or tell people to be quiet,” said Callahan in an interview. “This event is important because it lets students get to know that we are real people who care about the community.” Callahan, known to the Brandeis community by his weekly email updates, expressed hope that the relationship between students and Public Safety would continue to improve.

Walia had similar hopes. “I have met with [Callahan] a couple times about all kinds of student engagement with public safety and safety on campus,” Walia said. “I think it is an ongoing process, and a huge part of it is bringing students and Public Safety closer.”

Several students in attendance at the event admitted that they had come for the free ice cream but were happy with the conversations they had with Public Safety employees. Several said that they were surprised to find that officers were so willing to interact with students.

“I want Brandeis to be a stronger community,” said Student Union Vice President Sofía Mühlmann ’16 in an interview. “These events are super important to show how Public Safety really is here to protect and help students.” Public Safety officers in attendance happily talked to students about topics ranging from their favorite ice cream flavors and toppings to movies, cementing the friendly atmosphere.

Callahan also related the event to the recent increase of reported alcohol-related incidents on campus. “There are certain people who continually get reported because of their actions when alcohol is involved,” Callahan said. “But Public Safety is not only here to ruin students’ fun.” The reports were all filed only after complaints were called in, rather than being the result of Public Safety seeking to shut down parties or events.

In the future, the Student Union will collaborate with the Brandeis administration to bridge gaps between various departments and students, Walia said. “We want to work with the university to make the students really feel like they are heard and can trust [the administration],” Walia said. Many events are currently in the brainstorming stage in the Student Union and will occur in addition to more roundtables and public forums.