Your Questions on Student Rights and Campus Safety, Answered

Vanessa Paolella, Editor in Chief

After two recent incidents surrounding Campus Safety, The Bates Student sought to answer common questions about student rights and interacting with safety officers on campus. We asked Director of Security Paul Menice and Senior Associate Dean of Students Carl Steidel to clarify what may be pressing and concerning questions for students. Their answers are paraphrased below, with specific excerpts from college policies when applicable. 

Do students have the right to withhold their ID from campus safety officers?

This is against college policy. As a private college campus, Bates has its own set of policies students must follow. Campus Safety officers are not the same as police officers, so it is not technically illegal to withhold ID, but it is a violation of college policy and may result in disciplinary action.

The Student Code of Conduct states, “Conduct which interferes with the regular procedures of the College, investigation of alleged Code violations, the process by which they are resolved, or their outcomes, or that violates any College policy…may constitute an ‘obstruction of College procedures’ violation.”

This includes refusing to identify yourself when a college employee requests it while fulfilling their job duties. 

“Refusing to identify oneself to College employees in the pursuit of their duties or to comply with appropriate instructions (e.g., refusing to provide one’s name or to disperse when asked to do so by campus Security),” is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. 

This information is located in the Student Code of Conduct, under “Part 1: Bates College Code of Student Conduct,” “B. Social Misconduct,” then section 5, “Obstruction of College Procedures.”


Can students just walk away from campus safety officers?

This is also a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Students must cooperate with Campus Safety officers – although it is, again, not illegal to walk away from a safety officer, it is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and may result in disciplinary action when the student is identified.   

Bates students must comply with college employees fulfilling their job duties or face an ‘obstruction of the College’ violation. This includes “refusing to appear before College administrators or Security personnel charged with authority in matters of student conduct.” 

This information is located in the Student Code of Conduct, under “Part 1: Bates College Code of Student Conduct,” “B. Social Misconduct,” then section 5, “Obstruction of College Procedures.”


Do students have the right to record campus safety officers? 

Yes. Like the majority of U.S. states, Maine has a one-party consent law. This means that students do not need permission from all of the people present to record an incident or a conversation. Only one person must consent to the recording for it to be legal.  


What is the process for students to file complaints against campus safety officers?

Students may report concerns they have about Campus Safety in a variety of ways. 

  1. Students may report an incident using Bates’ anonymous reporting system located here.
  2. Students may email Director Menice or Dean Stedel.
  3. Students may email Bates Human Resources with their concerns. 


Do students have the right to request a female safety officer? Are there any female patrol officers on staff?

Students may request a female employee to respond to an incident, however there are currently no female patrol officers on Campus Safety’s staff. Instead, Director Menice said he would contact the dean on call to locate a female employee in Residence Life or Student Affairs who could talk to the student or respond to the request in person. 


Do campus safety officers wear body cameras or recording devices while patrolling?



Does Safety have a quota of students they need to write-up?



Which policies detail who officers should write-up?

Officers have discretion to determine whether to write-up students for campus violations, but they are expected to apply their judgement uniformly to the student body.

“There’s always some level of discretion,” Director Menice said. “I think we expect officers to document any potential violations of college policy and to be as consistent as possible with that. There is always some discretion in there, and different officers have different approaches. But in general, we expect officers to document consistently [college] violations.”  


What training do safety officers receive in verbal conflict resolution?

Director Menice said training in verbal conflict resolution is mandatory for all Campus Safety staff. Two programs safety officers have received training in are Verbal Judo, a de-escalation technique that encourages officers to ask questions, and Management of Aggressive Behavior (MOAB) techniques. MOAB teaches principles, techniques, and skills to officers to recognize, reduce, and manage violent and aggressive behavior.

All Campus Safety officers have been trained in de-escalation techniques. The most recent relevant training was conducted in February 2020 with Residence Life titled, “Motivational Interviewing.” This training taught techniques for communicating with people under stress. A Verbal Judo training was planned for earlier this year, however it was cancelled due to the pandemic. 


What gear do campus safety officers carry? Batons? Handcuffs?

Campus Safety officers may carry pepper spray, collapsible batons, and handcuffs. There are policies which direct when each of these instruments should and should not be used in the Campus Safety use of force policy. This information is located under “Use of Force Continuum.” 


How often does Campus Safety physically restrain students?

According to Director Menice, “very rarely” do campus safety officers physically restrain students. He couldn’t remember the last time he had personally restrained a student.  

The application of any degree of force is only justified when security personnel reasonably believes that it is necessary under the guidelines set forth in this policy,” Campus Safety’s use of force policy states. Campus Safety officers should “Employ the minimum force reasonably necessary to achieve an authorized purpose.”

There are guidelines for use of pepper spray, collapsible batons, and handcuffs under “Use of Force Continuum.”


For any further questions, please contact Director Menice or Dean Steidel.