Rather be safe than sorry

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October 1, 2007

11:14 PM

I, like every student at the College, took an honor pledge during orientation. In this pledge, we all promised to uphold the Honor Code. We also promised to behave in a manner that would reflect the upstanding reputation of the College.

p. With this in mind, it makes any news of robberies and safety violations more horrifying and out of the ordinary than at other universities. We are all spoiled by the environment around us. We leave our backpacks and laptops unattended at Swem. We have our cell phones and room keys save tables at the Caf while we stand in line for our food. It seems all very quaint and similar to “Pleasantville.”

p. The recent reports of unsecured dorms on campus are especially alarming, as described in the Sept. 18 issue of The Flat Hat. The dorms in question are primarily freshman halls, including Barrett Hall, Taliaferro Hall, Dupont Hall and Yates Hall. As a resident of Barrett, these findings hit me a little closer to home.

p.. The fact that certain doors don’t close all the way or can be opened without the use of swiping an ID card and that certain windows can be opened easily by anyone outside is disconcerting. After all, dorms serve as homes for students throughout most of the school year. Security problems like these can cause some, including myself, to feel as though their homes are not a safe place to live.

p. After reading through the Campus Police Beat, though, it appears that most robberies tend to take place outside dorms. It seems, for instance, that more bikes are reported stolen off racks rather than jewelry from dorm rooms. Similarly, rocking chairs are stolen right off the Barrett porch, while the television in the Barrett parlor remains in its place. Beyond propped open doors and vulnerable windows, we should be more cautious of things that go beyond the walls of our dorms and other campus buildings.
Students at the College are not stupid. We know that we shouldn’t leave things lying around campus, Colonial Williamsburg or wherever we happen to go. But perhaps we (and, in particular, those living in the dorms reported as unsecure) should be more alert and exercise more caution. Even simple things, such as making sure your bedroom door is locked when you leave or not letting someone you have never seen before into your dorm, make a difference. The last thing Residence Life needs is to be accosted by a multitude of students complaining about thefts from their room or, even worse, that they themselves have been injured by an intruder.

p. There is not, and never will be, a completely perfect community in which crime does not exist. We all know this. But in the hustle and bustle of midterm exams, it’s easier to believe that the College and Williamsburg in general come close to that ideal. Looking down Duke of Gloucester Street, you would never think that anything horrible could ever happen here. And, for the most part, you would be right. But remember that taking an extra precaution every now and then never hurts anyone. If anything, it can make things better.

p. __Jessica Gallinaro is a freshman at the College.__

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