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SGA ups administrative ante on security breach

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • November 14, 2012

At issue: SGA initiative calls for clarity.

Our take: Student government and administrators must follow through. 

Some Student Government Association initiatives in the past past have seemed poorly-timed, fanciful, ineffective, and empty. However, current SGA recommendations to improve campus security and communication with students on matters like the Oct. 10 Little Building intruder incident could potentially help to clarify what has become a murky campus talking point. With the proposal, another prominent student organization has lent its voice to growing concerns over safety on campus.

Over the past few weeks, the issue of dormitory security has pervaded conversation among the student body. Beyond a straightforward notification about the breach itself, the administration now owes students clarity on the matter at large. Campus institutions like the Beacon and SGA have raised important and yet unanswered questions that demand a response, unprompted by interviews with student journalists or formal meetings with our representatives. Emerson’s response needs to be proactive, not reactive. 

If there is an emergency or dangerous situation on campus, students should receive a notification that doesn’t come from their own social networks. Administrative clarity should come irrespective of news cycles and student legislative sessions—it should happen immediately. A friend of a friend’s status update is not where the buck stops on keeping students abreast of these situations. Outrage doesn’t stem entirely from this conceivable and ultimately forgivable breach of security; it stems from the reluctance of administrators to respond on their own. 

What’s more, that lack of transparency has led to confusion and misunderstanding, as so little definitive record of events, reassurance, or straight talk has been disseminated by the administration itself. College officials owe us stronger leadership. 

Emerson has a notification system in place that can alert the entire student body through email and text message. However, the administration failed to notify the student body when an intruder entered the Little Building. The SGA initiative calls on administrators to make proper use of its alert system, which could have been used to inform students of the Little Building incident and could prove a useful tool in responding to a future security situation.

This breach of security risks becoming a breach of trust, as some students question the college’s preparedness to preempt crime even on the level of petty theft. Emerson must face their reservations head on. 

We’ve seen many SGA initiatives over the past few semesters. Initiatives for gardens at Rotch Field, initiatives for academic reform, initiatives for better service in the dining hall. But adequate communication to the student body on the progress of these initiatives has yet to be seen. With this latest addition to the requests for change at the college, it’s critical that the SGA follows through not only with ECPD, but with informing us on the college’s response to the call for better security.