The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Colgate Doesn’t Feel Safe Anymore

Mark DiOrio

I used to always feel safe at Colgate University. I left my laptop alone in the library without a second thought. I walked home by myself late at night with ease. It has never once occurred to me that the academic buildings should require you to scan a student ID. Even safety incidents that would occur — and they did occur — were bad apples, bad seeds. But lately, amidst the announcements from Campus Safety telling me to lock my door, secure my valuables and share information about ongoing investigations, Im starting to question: Is Colgate safe?

Early Saturday morning, I was woken up by banging on my door and someone shouting that they were Campus Safety. I grumbled out of bed and approached my door with the full intention of telling off some drunk kids who thought it would be funny to disrupt everyone’s sleep. Instead, I opened my door to a hallway full of police officers.

Bad things happen in the world. I can comprehend this as I have watched them on the news, heard about them from friends and family and experienced them myself. Bad things also happen on college campuses — students have education and support services for them. However, despite knowing these things, I never thought that Colgate was a place where bad things happened regularly; anything that occurred was a one-off issue that could be solved, not an ongoing concern. Now, it is at the forefront of my mind that there are ongoing concerns, and maybe I’m not as safe as I thought. 

Campus Safety and other campus resources were in and out of my house after the incident. There were regular patrols, a car parked outside most of the time and continuous announcements and updates. And all the while, I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it. Hamilton, N.Y., was what always seemed to me a television-inspired town with a local and campus police force straight out of “The Andy Griffith Show”: friendly, capable and something you could watch with kids around. Suddenly, the show’s rating has changed. It changed with the Campus Safety email a couple of weeks ago telling me to lock my door. It changed when authorities banged on my door at 4:30 a.m. It changed when Campus Safety became the titular character of my weekend. It changed when a stranger entered my home.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, also known as the Clery Act, was renamed after an 18-year-old Lehigh University student named Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986. The purpose of the act was to hold universities accountable for disclosing to students safety concerns, which, before the act, were woefully underreported to improve public image. As stated in the Campus Safety email sent to the campus community later that morning on Feb. 10, which included information on the policy, the campus community is quite literally being told that there is a “serious or ongoing threat to life and safety.” In other words, there are reasons to believe I may be more unsafe this week than I was last week. 

Why do I feel like Colgate isn’t as safe? Because I’m being told it isn’t.

I don’t think I’m the only one who feels less safe. My support network following the incident kept repeating the same word: scary. The situation is frightening, and everyone I talk to seems to agree. There is, of course, fear of the physical violation of space; a man broke in. But, to me, there is also a much greater fear of the mental violation of my sense of security; before this, I never thought this could happen. Before this semester, I thought Colgate was a much safer place.

I can fortify my room and my home. I can imagine that Campus Safety is going to spend a great deal of time physically securing the buildings on campus. But can I fortify my mind to make myself feel as blissfully safe as I once did? I doubt it. I think that, unfortunately, one of the grim realities of becoming an adult is the continual realization that bad things happen in the world, and those bad things could happen to me. I am privileged to say that I don’t know if I thought about safety much in elementary school, and probably still not very much in middle or high school. But the older I get, safety becomes a concern beyond the monster under my bed, a grade on a quiz or whether or not my friend is mad at me.

I had hoped, however, that my bubble would have lasted a little longer before it popped. I’m glad to be equipped with the knowledge to protect myself, but I wish I didn’t have anything to protect myself against. I would still rather be more concerned at night about whether or not I’m going to do well in practice tomorrow than if someone is going to try to violate me or my friends while we’re sleeping. 

Still, I’ve found everyone at the university to be supportive. I think the way we are going to start to regain a sense of safety in our community will be by coming together, leaning on one another and utilizing the resources available to us. 

But at the same time, I am going to start vigilantly locking my door at night, checking on my friends more and walking home with a buddy. Why? Because whether or not it is, Colgate doesn’t feel safe anymore.

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About the Contributor
Elli Ament, Managing Editor
Elli Ament is a senior from Littleton, CO concentrating in history with a focus on cultural history and media. She has previously served as a Commentary Editor, Assistant Commentary Editor, and as a staff writer for the Commentary and News sections. On campus, Elli is a member of the Women’s Rowing Team.

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