Meredith College announced their partnership with Guaranteed Monitoring and Security Services, LLC, a private security firm, on Feb. 10. The college stated the partnership went into effect after Feb. 14. Not only was this email a surprise, but students were given four days to understand and prepare for a new security team in addition to Campus Police.
It’s hard to believe that new private security was not hired for the wellbeing of students. They were simply hired to increase control over students and make security life easier. Students' perspectives were not considered before this decision was made, yet they have to feel the impact. The hiring of private security attempts to justify the addition of more rules and control than what’s necessary.
Current guest regulations at Meredith aren’t fairly enforced by campus security. According to the Meredith website, guest hours for male visitors pre-pandemic ran throughout the week during selected hours. The website also states that males could stay in residence halls’ 1st floor parlors during open campus hours, and go into residence dorms during selected hours. Post pandemic, non-Meredith students are currently not allowed in the residence halls or Oaks Apartments at all. This rule is strictly enforced by the Meredith Campus Police (MCP) by taking non-student IDs after 11 p.m. and potential further disciplinary action if guests do not leave by a certain time which is not stated on the Meredith website. Non-student female guests are also not allowed on campus, per visitor policy, but there is no investigation into if a feminine-presenting person coming onto campus is a student or not. These practices don't show equity, it shows profiling.
MCP has been seen parking themselves in dim areas of student parking lots, seemingly to remain unnoticed. Security practices are in place to keep me safe, but how can they keep students safe when monitoring their every move makes many, including us, uncomfortable? MCP’s current practices need to be reevaluated before training more security to do the same things.
The addition of new private security guards does not address the issues of safety that students currently experience. Students have expressed concerns about the lack of consistent enforcement, needing more gender and racial diversity on staff and feeling uncomfortable around some MCP officers and their interactions with students.
Students will have to deal with the consequences of the new private security company, both positive and negative. Previous experiences with racial discrimination from campus police could make students uncomfortable with the new company. Additional negative interactions between campus security and students can still occur. Even if the situations are addressed, students are still left with a potentially traumatizing or disruptive experience. The decision being made without consulting students or providing them with information about the company makes it difficult to know exactly what we should expect from the new security officers before having any interactions.
Even though students don’t have a say in everything that happens at Meredith, it is important to remember the context that was given to us when we came here. MCP was the only security we knew of when coming to campus. Any changes to campus life that have the potential to drastically change our experiences should be more openly discussed before they’re implemented. Students didn’t consent to this new kind of security, nor were our concerns the focal point of the decision.
It is hard to understand where the consideration for student safety comes from. Inconsistent enforcement of rules and mistreatment of Black and brown students have continued to occur. MCP has rarely asked the Meredith community for our opinion on their current approaches to campus safety. These problems should have been considered before the hire, and students should have been consulted prior to the decision was made.
By Aminah Jenkins, Associate Editor, and Melissa Taylor, Staff Writer