Ron Noble, chief of the McMinnville Police Department, talks about how McMinnville police will be assisting College Public Safety in keeping students safe during a community forum Nov. 2 in Riley 201. Joel Ray/Photo editor
Dawn Graff-Haight, professor of health education, facilitates the safety forum in which students expressed their concerns about their safety after the latest assaults. Joel Ray/Photo editor
Students, faculty and staff voiced concerns and asked questions regarding campus safety after the latest campus incidents during a Community Safety Forum sponsored by the Associated Students of Linfield College on Nov. 2 in Riley 201.
Apart from ASLC, Dawn Graff-Haight, professor of health education; Jeff MacKay, associate dean of students; Robert Cepeda, chief/director of College Public Safety; Ron Noble, chief of the McMinnville Police Department; Dan Fergueson, director of College Activities; and the school’s area directors and residence advisers (RAs), were also present at the discussion.
The forum, which was facilitated by Graff-Haight, opened the floor for students to express their feelings and concerns about the student assaults that occurred last month. Students were encouraged to ask questions about the incidents, as well as about the college’s response, Graff-Haight said in an email.
One issue that students raised during the discussion was that the email sent out to parents about the assaults was not clear enough.
ASLC Vice President senior Bradley Keliinoi said that the emails about the incidents could have been sent earlier. Students heard about the assaults through word-of-mouth before the administration had sent anything.
Other students agreed and said that the information in the emails was confusing and vague.
Some of the RAs in attendance said that when approached by students in their dorms, they did not have enough information to give them about the incidents.
Another concern students brought to the forum was a lack of lighting on and around campus.
Keliinoi said that the street leading to the new development area is pitch black at night, and many students have to walk home.
MacKay addressed this by saying that the school does not control the lighting off campus. But, he and Cepeda maintain a good relationship with the city and have sent a request to check if Davis Street is up to standards. He also clarified that anyone with lighting concerns can send a request to the city.
CPS also offers rides to students. Cepeda said the service has been underused so far, and he clarified where CPS’s boundaries are.
Students also suggested creating a cab service for students who go off campus. ASLC President senior Rachel Coffey said that ASLC is looking into it and that students would probably have to pay a small fee.
In the meantime, Noble said that Davis Street is being closely watched, and officers are on overtime patrolling.
Noble also said that students should contact the McMinnville Police Department when they see things happening.
“I think an interesting point brought up during the forum was that there has not been much information provided to the police about the incident,” Graff-Haight said in an email. “[Noble] encouraged students who witnessed the incident to come forward so the police have more information with which to investigate. He acknowledged that students might have been reticent to come forward out of fear of being cited for a MIP. Chief Noble was quite clear that there is no chance that students could be cited, so they should definitely call police if they were there.”
Noble said that although it is up to the discretion of the officer, it is often a matter of priorities. He said that officers often are in the area for other calls, unrelated to students drinking on campus.
Noble stressed that the McMinnville Police Department is not out to get Linfield students. And, calls can be anonymous and confidential.
“It is my hope that the assaults nearly two weeks ago were isolated incidents,” Graff-Haight said. “I’m pleased about the increased presence of police on Davis Street, and I encourage all of us to look out for each other, to be a little more vigilant and if any of us see something that is questionable, we call CPS on campus and the Mac PD when we’re off campus.”
For more information about what was discussed during the Community Safety Forum, visit www.linfield.edu/linfield-review/?p=8560
Jessica Prokop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org