ASLC hosts public forum for students to voice concerns

Joel Ray/Senior photographer

Rebecca Wale, director of College Public Safety, addresses students’ concerns about the role of CPS and interactions between students and officers during a town hall meeting organized by the Associated Students of Linfield College on April 7 in Riley 201.

About 25 students gathered for a PowerPoint presentation, regarding college policies and a Q-and-A session to discuss student concerns around campus, which primarily focused on the relationship between students and College Public Safety, during a town hall meeting April 7 in Riley 201.

The majority of students’ concerns focused on interactions between students and CPS officers. Several students voiced specific, negative interactions, using these as examples for broader issues, such as a lack of communication, understanding and respect on both sides. Consistency in college policy protocol was also discussed.

The public forum, which was organized by the Associated Students of Linfield College, aimed to open up a dialogue between students and administration.

Jeff Mackay, associate dean of students/director of Residence Life; Susan Hopp, dean of students; Rebecca Wale, director of CPS; and Dan Fergueson, director of College Activities, represented the administrative side of the discussion.

Two key questions asked by junior Jake Baker, incoming ASLC vice president, spurred a discussion about how CPS views its role on campus, as well as its weekend interactions with students.

Wale said that CPS’ core goals are to provide emergency management, security services and education about personal safety. However, it also works as a neutral observer in reporting possible policy violations.

“We make contact and try to get to know members of the community. Our presence is there in trying to deter possible victimization,” Wale said.

Mackay added that CPS and other observers simply respond to student behavior.

Junior Brynnan Hyland further expanded on Baker’s question, inquiring about why there is stress on interactions between students and CPS.

Wale confirmed that she has heard this from a percentage of the population. However, she has also heard a lot of positive feedback.

“I think there is confusion of CPS’ intent in how we’re treating and working with students. Our goal is integrity and respect. We expect that in return,” Wale said. “It’s a hard line to walk in providing services and holding students accountable for their actions.”

Another student inquired about CPS’ role as a neutral observer, making the point that many students feel like CPS goes on fishing expeditions.

“We make lots of contacts that aren’t necessarily for policy violations,” Wale said. “If a student is walking down the street looking intoxicated or having challenges, then that is suspicious.”

Mackay agreed saying that if a student goes out of their way to avoid a CPS officer or administrator then this seems suspicious and will be checked out.

Because many of the questions were based on students’ personal experiences, junior Maggie May, ASLC secretary, suggested creating a grievance form as a way for students to air their frustrations with the appropriate college officials.

All of the representatives at the forum were open to this suggestion.

“I think we achieved what we set out to do, which was to start a conversation between students and administration. There was a good balance between legitimate questions and a chance for students to get things off their chests,” said Nic Miles, outgoing ASLC president. “I would have liked to have more student representation, but the students who did come have loud voices and will spread the word well.”

The other half of the forum focused on college policies, clarifying who creates policies, who reports policy violations and who determines a policy violation.

Mackay said that the Dean of Students Office, Student Policies Committee and Faculty Committee, President’s Cabinet and the Board of Trustees are the only sources on campus that create college policies.

From there, reporting policy violations is left up to CPS officers, residence advisors, area directors, faculty and other community members.

He made this distinction from who determines a policy violation because the overwhelming consensus of the group was that students are unclear about policy enforcement. Only the College Conduct Board, Peer Conduct Board and a college conduct officer from the Dean of Students Office determines if a policy violation has occurred, Mackay said.

The second half of the PowerPoint presentation reviewed the college’s Medical Clemency policy.

Mackay focused on key issues that have been circulating around campus, regarding confusion about the policy.

He clarified that the school’s policy does not entail calling the McMinnville Police Department during a Medical Clemency. If an officer is available, they are automatically dispatched when EMTs are requested.

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