An Update on the 2021 Campus Safety Investigation


Katherine Merisotis/The Bates Student

Campus Safety is currently being revitalized following recommendations from Sarah Worley’s external report.

On July 26, Carl Steidel, former senior associate dean of students, sent out an email regarding the findings of the incident between a Campus Safety officer and a Bates student. He was referencing an incident that took place last March, when a Campus Safety officer tackled and restrained a first-year student in Rand Hall. At the time, a video was also released showing the same officer speaking to a student about “differential treatment of students based on race.” 

Steidel’s email outlined an update to the investigation, as well as the findings of Sarah Worley, an external investigator hired by the college. The email referenced two phases of the investigation: a review of the events on March 5, as well as “a broader look at the role and duties of Campus Safety as currently defined; the experiences with, and views of, Campus Safety expressed by students, faculty, and staff; and the challenges of the role described by Campus Safety staff members.” 

At the end of the email, Steidel discussed the potential and opportunity for change. One of such changes include the new “live-in positions in Residence Life.” These staff members were hired to provide increased student support, such as for “after-hours mental health concerns and residential conflicts.” 

Steidel writes that “other work is ongoing” and Bates will consider the recommendations of Worley’s report to “decide which specific suggestions for change make sense for Bates.” 

Worley’s report included a detailed plan about recommendations for the College to think about. The recommendations were organized into multiple categories: redistribution of select duties; clarifying the role of Campus Safety; diversification of the department; enhancement of training; improvement of dispatch; rethinking of uniform and equipment; creating community engagement; addressing inconsistencies in College alcohol policy and enforcement; and creating mutual respect between Campus Safety and the community.

In addition, several student groups shared Worley’s contact information on social media platforms. To keep in accordance with CDC guidelines and protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews with faculty, staff, administration, alumni, students, community members, Campus Safety staff, representatives from Restorative Justice Coalition, and Student Affairs were conducted through Zoom or by telephone. Students and student athletes who work with the Office of Residence Life & Health Education were also included in these interviews. 

Worley acknowledged that her recommendations “represent a significant shift in structure for the College” and that the College should pay particular attention to three different areas that define the role of Campus Safety: engagement, enforcement, and protection. Towards the end, Worley identifies two major concepts that would serve as the key to a better and safer community, a “mutuality of responsibility and collectivism.” 

She ends with the statement: “For the college to succeed in this mission, its community members must craft productive ways to move forward together in building a system of mutual understanding and respect for the good of every member.”

Bates has taken a major step in establishing a culture of collectivism by creating a new student working group that will assist in all aspects of student life: Campus Safety, Residence Life, Campus Life, and Community Standards. This student group is made up of student members from “a number of committees, student leadership groups, and four at-large members selected by student government.” In addition, the Bates College Student Government (BCSG) co-presidents Kush Sharma and Marcos Pacheco Soto are actively involved in this effort.