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Editorial: Freedom comes with a cost

Published: September 7, 2007
Section: Opinions


Security has been an incredibly important issue here at Brandeis University over the past couple of years. This university has experienced many strange incidents, including a bomb scare, one student getting beaten in her room by an unknown man, the tennis court masturbator, and most recently a disturbance in Massell Quad that resulted in violent actions. These incidents, along with the incidents last year at Virginia Tech, have created a need to increase the security on this campus and at other universities.

The most recent incident in Massell comes after several new measures by the Brandeis Office of Public Safety to try and make our campus more secure. These measures are certainly a step in the right direction to ensuring a campus where one can live without fear. Over the summer, Brandeis rolled out a new text-messaging system, spending more than $100,000. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Frenchs most recent email to the Brandeis community only confirmed the general feeling of unease and the escalated efforts on the part of Public Safety to make our campus as safe as possible.

Some people might say in light of the most recent incident in Massell Quad that these precautions are not enough. Many have pointed towards arming the campus police with firearms as one possible way of tightening security. Yet this has been met with a great amount of scrutiny. For the most part, Brandeis has tried to balance students freedom with necessary security precautions. Compared to other universities, Brandeis security is much more relaxed. This certainly has its pros and cons.

In contrast to many larger schools and other schools in major urban areas, Brandeis does not have the same extensive security features. Many universities such as Boston University require guests to sign in, walk through a security gate, check back packs, and have curfews. Some even have security guards at each door with surveillance cameras watching students every move, along with mandatory ID checks. Brandeis does not have any of these security precautions. Indeed, every time our university encounters a new episode that showcases a lack of security, the university is again scrutinized.

Several off- campus students have remarked in the past on how easy it is to get into academic buildings or residence halls without keys, and this could extend to any non-student. Very often, buildings will be completely open to anyone during hours of high traffic or if someone is throwing a party. The Big Brother aspect of living in constant fear and surveillance that could pervade other universities is thankfully something that for the most part, Brandeis does not possess. Yet it is only when something goes wrong is our security questioned.

It is important to realize that Brandeis Public Safety has tried its best to appease students so that they do not feel they are living in a war zone, but also to try and do what is in the best interest of the student body in regards to safety. With added freedom at our university and a significantly less obtrusive security system, students must realize that this might come at a cost. Were Brandeis to crack down on security to the extent of some universities like Boston University, our university might encounter fewer incidents, but it would also miss out on many of the things that makes Brandeis a less intimidating place in which to live and work.