Campus Security Policies Need Revision
Last weekend's shooting of a Northeastern University student outside Walker Memorial demonstrates yet again that campus security is a serious problem. The shooting took place at the heart of the MIT campus, in spite of the presence of metal detectors and Campus Police at the Alpha Phi Alpha party. The incident points to a need for the Institute to re-evaluate its security policies.
The MIT administration's decision to suspend large late-night parties is a good start, but is viable only as a temporary measure. Obviously no social events are worth the expense of potential injury to students. But there is a clear need for MIT to develop and implement a long-term security plan that is more extensive than current security practices.
In particular, the new plan must address the problem of security outside of events. The Walker shooting makes clear that securing the inside of events is not sufficient. People who are denied entrance to a party often linger outside the event and sometimes cause trouble. Metal detectors inside the event do nothing to identify people carrying weapons outside.
Campus Police officers must shore up security outside parties, perhaps by adding additional details to guard the perimeter of events. The details should ensure that people who are turned away from events leave the area promptly, are forcibly removed, or are arrested for trespassing.
The conditions for requiring metal detectors seem to be a good standard. Large late-night parties with alcohol and significant numbers of non-MIT students seem to involve the bulk of security problems at the Institute. Events that meet these criteria should be forced to step up security under the new plan.
In formulating the new policy, it is crucial that student input play an important role. The input of living group members is essential in creating a plan that is amenable to the concerns of students. To that end, organizations hosting parties should plan to work closely with CPs. A good combination of self-policing by organizations and close contact with CPs is likely to help to minimize problems.
MIT overall enjoys a low crime rate and a normally secure campus. But we shouldn't tolerate even a small problem with safety, particularly when the consequences are deadly and the problem seems solvable. The administration should act with adequate student involvement to properly address the current security problems. MIT should implement a new plan in a timely manner so that suspended campus functions can resume.