First, a preface. All of the details pertaining to Saturday’s armed sexual assault in LXR were made publicly available in a public safety alert issued 11 hours after the incident; hence, nothing discussed here would be censorable under the logic that it could compromise or color an “ongoing investigation.”

Second, I am going to skip the customary back-patting that serves to soften criticism in viewpoints. In a meeting with LXR residents on Saturday night, Rocco DelMonaco and Todd Olson, the vice presidents for university safety and student affairs, respectively, indulged in enough self-congratulation to fill the whole of this section. Both praised, among other things, the administration’s “commendable” primary response to the “LGBTQ incident” last semester. The purpose of this meeting, however, was to allow residents to voice, and the administration to address, security concerns arising from Saturday’s assault, wherein a still-unidentified assailant “digitally penetrated” an LXR resident and forced her to kiss him at gunpoint. And while the meeting’s first objective was accomplished in spades – students expressed a litany of concerns from unlocked doors to dozing security guards – the administrators’ responses were not reassuring.

DelMonaco began by commenting on the “lax [residential] culture,” admonishing us for failing to report inattentive security guards and suspicious-looking people to DPS immediately. Not only was it pretty undiplomatic to point the finger at the same residents who he was trying to placate, but DelMonaco’s implication that somehow it is incumbent upon students to provide security or oversee those contracted to provide that security is wrong. While the realities of living on an urban campus dictate that we be aware of our surroundings while carousing N Street late at night, that heightened state of awareness should cease the moment we cross the residence hall threshold. It is the charge of the Office of University Safety and the Department of Public Safety to insulate this university and its residences from external threats so that students and faculty can focus on the important business of generating and transferring knowledge inside. Security is DelMonaco’s job, not ours.

And, it is not a job that should be delegated unless we can be assured that any security firm, in this case Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., lives up to its contractual obligations in a meaningful way. In other words, if the Office of University Safety insists on contracting out our safety, they had better provide some oversight. Relying on informal student reports to monitor Securitas personnel and conferring with company managers once a week is evidently not cutting it. DelMonaco and his counterpart from DPS both appeared stunned to learn that security guards occasionally fall asleep at their posts during shifts that normally lasts 12 hours or wave guests through without signing them in. I am not trying to imply that what happened on Saturday was a direct result of any failing on the part of one or many security guards – we will have to wait for the Metropolitan Police Department’s report on the matter before forming any conclusion in that regard; I am merely relating that such lapses do occur, and when they do it is, in part, attributable to a lack of oversight.

Improving oversight would necessarily entail greater DPS involvement if not an increased presence inside of the residence halls and from there it is but a half step to cutting out Securitas altogether and bringing all East Campus security functions under the aegis of DPS. Like me, DelMonaco says he is in favor of a full stride toward this consolidation, but “cost and span of control issues” hold him back and cause him to relegate such a proposition to the realm of “philosophy.” The events of this weekend, however, were all too real, particularly for someone who lives 24 steps above the scene of the crime. Even if this investigation finds that the most vigilant of security guards could not have intercepted the attacker, the administration should not put a price, whether it be monetary or in terms of managerial reorganization, on protecting its students. In consolidating campus security functions, DelMonaco should be given a blank check and a free hand.

Ian Hampton is a sophomore in the College and a resident of LXR.

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