Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Better lighting and stakeouts more effective than pistols and bullets

Published: October 1, 2007
Section: Opinions

Obsessing over safety is by no means cool, but having to live in fear is quite unpleasant. I am forced to ask, then, why Brandeis Public Safety dedicates itself wholeheartedly to the wrong things, while leaving gaps which affect the student body.

Brandeis is a pretty safe campus. We dont have security guards stationed in all of our dorms, we dont have random ID checks, and we dont need these things. We have the fastest parking ticket response time in the country, and we dont need that either. But most of all, we dont need officers with guns.

What threat could possibly strike our campus which would require our police officers to fire upon someone? Guns are tools of fear and intimidation, and the presence of officers wielding firearms will doubtlessly have a subduing effect on campus speech and student spirit.

Recently, Andrew Meyer was tased relentlessly and without merit by campus police officers at the University of Florida, simply for asking too long a question of John Kerry. Last year, UCLA police did the same thing to a student at the Powell Library because he wasnt fast enough showing his ID. And that was non-lethal weaponry! Brandeis boldly skipped tasers, and went right from pepper spray to pistols.

This knee jerk reaction to the Virginia Tech tragedy involved little to no input from the students it claims to protect, and is being adopted far too hastily. A small panel during the summer months, with student views represented by Union insiders, hardly qualifies as open dialogue. The answer to diminished gun violence is not more guns its the implementation of better mental health facilities for the student body. While the terrible actions of Seung-Hui Cho cant be forgotten, or overstated, giving our police more lethal weapons is not the way to prevent such an incident. The police at Virginia Tech were, at the time of the massacre, carrying firearms.

That is not to say there arent ways to make our campus a safer place to live. Recently, there have been massive numbers of cars broken into in J lot and around the Charles River apartments. An officer told me that the break-ins are continuing, and as I walked back to my Grad today, I saw a friend of mines driver-side window knocked out. This means that there are criminals, presumably from off campus, coming here regularly. They have no fear of capture, and why should they? The few closed circuit cameras set up to watch our cars clearly arent cutting it. Ah, but, heres what guns will do for us:

Thief one: Man, lets rob the cars on the Brandeis Campus. We can go unarmed because those cops dont have guns. Well just run if were seen.

Thief two: Dude, I heard theyre going to start arming their cops with pistols.

Thief one: Well hell, I guess well have to bring our guns, then!

(High Five)

Were pumping $100,000 into weapons training and shiny pistols for our cops. With just one hundredth of that, I know how to stop the thief. Hire a security guard (or a ninja) to stand behind a tree near J lot. When they see someone about to shatter a window have them run out and throw a net on the criminal! Then they can call the Brandeis Police, and the problem will be resolved. In all seriousness, paying a couple of officers overtime to stake out the parking lot would be prudent.

Overzealous security steps like giving pistols to our police officers dont compensate for glaring oversights like a lack of sufficient cameras in J-lot, or low numbers of patrols.

The addition of firearms will make us less safe by bringing the number of guns on our campus from zero to many. Lets allocate these resources to things that will actually make us safe, like better lighting on the sketchy walk to J-lot. Or a ninja. Our endowment has been growing at record rates – the least our administration can do for us is ensure we dont get robbed while parking on their property.