When an online post made a threat against Philadelphia-area universities Oct. 5, the FBI passed on the information to the public in an “abundance of caution.” In that same abundance, Drexel University’s Department of Public Safety tightened security procedures around campus, banning guests from both residence halls and the W. W. Hagerty Library and mandating the presentation of DragonCards upon entrance to buildings. Though the threat failed to materialize, the University has continued posting public safety officials around campus buildings to check student IDs .
We’re all for increasing the amount of guards on duty and patrol in light of shooting threats, especially after the killings in Roseburg. We like the fact that classes continued and life on campus carried on regardless of the threat. Our university encouraged us to focus on our education, not the fear the threat sparked—and it was much appreciated.
But, at the same time, we’re deeming the continued DragonCard security measures arbitrary, a case of security theater, if you will. A half-hearted ID check is an annoyance to students. It hardly provides any extra safety for us in the case of an attack, since the feared “school shooter” would very likely be a Drexel student. Moving freely around campus is important to us as students. Running in-between classes, work and study locations, the checks are more of an inconvenience than a precaution.
The Department of Public Safety is a frequent source of reactionary policies like this one. They seem to stem from a desire to be seen doing “something” after events that provoke safety implications occur. But if there is some sort of comprehensive philosophy behind these new policies, the Drexel community is not privy to it. Especially for permanent policies, it’s important that these changes be made in consultation with everyone involved.
Surely people are best protected when they understand and participate in their own safety programs?
It is our hope at The Triangle that public safety will make itself open to both praise and criticism from the community it serves as it reviews its security policies. We expect that students will speak rather than standing idly by as our campus is reshaped with new building access policies or security standards that shape our daily lives.