Bates Campus Security works hard to make us feel safe on a personal, student-to-student and institutional level. Many security officers take the time to converse with students, inquiring about our studies and extracurricular interest, and showing genuine personal care for the students they protect. These conversations make everybody feel good: they serve as a break in the power dynamic between security officers and students, and they reassure students that officers respect us. These interactions contribute greatly to Bates’ reputation as welcoming and safe. Security officers help us when we are sick, send us safety warnings, and give us safe-rides late at night. The physical presence of our security officers ensures our safety on campus, and their quick response in situations of crime or danger comforts students in trouble. In these and many more ways, Bates Security has proven its commitment and dedication on many occasions.
In recent weeks, however, there has been an unfortunate breakdown of trust between many Bates students and the security officers. This is unfortunate, since trust between us is essential to maintaining the sense of safety and friendliness among staff, faculty, students, and Lewiston citizens that is such a treasured feature of life at Bates College. The rules concerning alcohol at Bates are clear and firm: it is illegal to consume alcohol if you are under 21, anyone over 21 should not be selling, buying for, or giving alcohol to anyone under 21, and hard alcohol is strictly banned on campus. With the consumption of alcohol, students must remain aware that even though we are on a campus, we are still very close to permanent residents of Lewiston. Noise levels and physical boundaries must be respected, especially when outside dorms. People who consume alcohol can easily and quickly lose sense of their surroundings and unintentionally cause harm or disturbance to others who do not wish to be involved. This can be an issue for students living on and off-campus, especially when weekend activities involve students roaming around Lewiston. So in recent weeks, why have there been issues involving the Lewiston Police and Campus Security because of students wandering around this city?
Bates Security “shutting down parties” is common on campus, especially on weekends. From a security perspective, parties that get rowdy have the potential to result in harm to students as well as annoyance to others. The problem is that at many recent parties, organized by upperclassmen of legal drinking age who understand and respect the rules governing alcohol consumption and weekend quiet times, and who respect our Lewiston neighbors, Security has intervened and shut them down, because of alleged “noise levels.”
Many students are sharing stories of Security shutting down gatherings of upperclassmen who were simply sitting in their dorm rooms having a quiet evening. Even with larger gatherings that may involve music, the “shutting down” of these parties for being “too loud,” especially before midnight, seems incredibly unfair. Quiet hours on weekends begin at 1 am.
The shutting down of legal and allowed campus socializing has resulted in some frustrated students reconvening off-campus, where the potential for disturbing the peace, or doing harm to themselves or others, is far greater. The shutting down of on-campus parties by Bates Campus Security these days has gone too far. Some of the “shutting down” of on-campus parties has resulted in more off-campus confrontations between Bates students and Lewiston Police. More dangerously, the increase of off-campus parties is more likely to result in intoxicated college students wandering around the city and disturbing the peace. These incidents not only erode trust between the city and the College, but they increase the possibility of a dangerous confrontation or accident occurring, which is exactly what Bates Security most wants to prevent.
I believe I speak for many of my fellow upperclassmen when I say: we need Security to stop the excessive policing of our social events before quiet hours. Dear Bates Security: if warnings about excessive noise levels or rowdy behavior are needed, by all means issue them, but don’t assume that a party that has gotten a little loud, has spun out of control. Don’t rush to shut down a social gathering when it is on-campus before quiet hours have begun.