I am deeply concerned about the events downtown in the recent weeks. Last year, when I walked down St. Catherine’s during one weekend, I could hear the music booming in the houses, people singing to Taylor Swift or old 90s jams, and people moving along the streets. During the past two weekends, I walked down St. Catherine’s and felt nervous. There was no music, no people milling around, but rather there were police cars parked throughout the street, and policemen following me as I walked back to my room.
I have heard many stories in the past couple days about people being harassed by the Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department (BVRPD), and a tale about a questionable undercover policeman entering households hosting parties. I am gravely concerned that University students are unaware of their rights. I feel that the police are taking advantage of this lack of knowledge, and students are getting put in harm’s way.
There has been an increase in reported sexual assaults and hospitalizations for upperclassmen. I see two ways to look at this. The first is that there is a serious problem on campus that needs a solution. But the way the police and administration have dealt with the issue is inappropriate, and I am disappointed in the disconnect between students and the administration. As a member of the University I feel like my voice has been silenced, and the school I chose to attend is being taken away from me. The second way to look at these increases, though, is pride that students are finally doing the right thing by reporting assaults and calling for help. With the new amnesty policy, students are more comfortable calling for help, and with the hard work of various sexual abuse awareness groups, students feel more comfortable speaking up.
This University is my home, and in that home I have a voice. We all have a voice. I urge every member of this University to briefly review their rights, email University President John Bravman, and open up discussion about these issues. I am not denying that there is an alcohol abuse problem at the University, or on college campuses in general, but the way it has been dealt with in the last few weeks has been more harmful than beneficial. We should be concerned about the direction our school is headed, because I’m starting to feel like I’m living in George Orwell’s “1984.”