Public Safety & Student Affairs

As student affairs professionals it’s very important to positively represent your university in everything you do and say. This includes watching what you say about other offices, co-workers, faculty, staff, etc. Generally I go by the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rule.

Usually, I think staff members understand this and at least try to keep their opinions to themselves. Since being at my graduate university (and mind you I’ve only been here about 1.5 months), however, I’ve heard a ridiculous amount of current and future professionals bad mouthing our Public Safety Officers. Sometimes in front of students!

I don’t understand. I’ve learned that there have been some problems with the officers here, but it sure doesn’t help the situation to bad mouth them to new students. We’ve had situations with students being told the officers are just “rent-a-cops,” and not to call public safety if they’ve been drinking on campus and need assistance. THIS HELPS NOTHING.

We should all be working together to make this university as successful in student development as possible; public safety is part of that. Yes, they need to make changes within their department, but student affairs needs to play a part as well. Our students’ safety should be top priority, and we can’t expect students to utilize public safety if we’re constantly undermining them. If we illuminate a positive attitude towards our public safety officers, eventually we will see that reflecting back from our students.

During my first week here I saw an officer securing a parking sign on the other side of the parking lot. I watched as students seemed to avoid going near him, looking in other directions. He sneezed, and I said “bless you” as I walked closer. He looked up, obviously taken aback, and smiled while thanking me and asking how my day was going.

On another occasion I stopped in to inquire about getting a parking ticket “forgiven” (I swear I thought I was in the right spot!) and spoke with one of the officers. He was really friendly and genuinely seemed to understand my situation. He told me what I needed to do and helped get me started on the process. I ended up having to pay the $20 fine – I was parked in the wrong spot after all – but it wasn’t an unpleasant experience. Point is, the officers did their job, and I can’t fault them for that. And even if I was angry after my experience, I would never say negative things about them around my students, or on campus for that matter – I view my time there as me in a fishbowl with everyone staring and poking chubby fingers at me just waiting to see what I do.

These probably seem like such small things, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Plus, it’s never a bad thing to have a cop on your side.

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