Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Our Opinion: Ensuring student safety

Posted on January 27, 2014 in Our Opinion, Perspectives
By USM Free Press

USM has seen more than its fair share of breaking news this week.From the arrest of a former USM student body president for arson on Monday and a Gorham standoff between police and an armed student Wednesday night, to an incident of spontaneous combustion in the science building on Friday.

Two of these events have something in common: they involve members of a USM fraternity. Wednesday night’s standoff occurred inside Sigma Nu, one of two USM-affiliated off-campus fraternity houses. These properties are not in fact university-owned; they are, as Executive Director of Student Life and Dean of Students Joy Pufhal put it, “recognized student group housing off-campus. The houses are included in the university’s “Annual Security Report and Annual Fire Safety Report,” but Pufhal noted that “the current university policy does not prohibit the possession of weapons in off-campus housing” simply because of “the way it is written.” That specifies carrying is not permitted “on-campus.” However, a simple search of the USM website turns up results from the Dean of Students page detailing a policy that states “weapons are not permitted on property owned by or under the control of the University of Southern Maine and off-campus activities sponsored by the University of Southern Maine.”  Apparently not, because “living” is not considered to be a student activity. This lack of clarity in administrative jurisdiction could lead, as we have seen this week, to a situation in which the university will be forced to make some difficult decisions to ensure the safety of its students. The question is should fraternities be included more in university policy? Can we afford to do more to control them? Can we afford not to?

We saw how situations can easily escalate, not just on our own campus, but in campuses across the country and at Purdue University in Indiana  just last week. What can we do as a community to ensure safety? It’s clear that emergency procedures are essential, like some of the methods we saw USM officials use this week in Gorham. However, a larger question needs to be confronted at USM; what can USM do to better ensure the safety of its students in the so-called recognized “off-campus” (but affiliated) residencies? The answer may be that the university should do more to regulate these recognized off-campus living spaces that are designated for students to ensure student safety during security procedures.

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  • LOL

    This is the most ignorant opinion lol. But then again, you’re The Free Press.

  • Anonymous

    All three of these incidents however had a connection to USM. So, why not talk about the more prevailing common denominator?

  • Jason Roberts

    Being in a fraternity does not make anyone a bad person. It teaches leadership, communication, responsibility, and much more. Being Greek means giving your time to the less fortunate by volunteering and making donations to causes that hit home. I am a committee member of Relay for Life and I actively donate money because my Grandmother passed of cancer. We are humans too. We have emotions, needs, hunger, obligations, etc. Do not belittle me or any other organization because of preconceived stereotypes. If all three events involved the Scuba Club, I bet that you would not link that fact to any of these stories. Support your fellow student in a time of sorrow. Show a little empathy to the friends, family, and brothers of Alan Santos. What happened with that fire on Friday? Man, I wish the NEWS people would report it instead of being biased…

  • Anonymous

    The USM Free Press is an absolute shit show. Courtney Aldrich wasn’t even at the art show that she did a column on. If they want to bash student organizations, maybe they should learn how to do SOMETHING right. Free Press, pick something and learn how to do it well. You make students hate USM, your articles have numerous errors in grammar, and you have false information provided by people who are all doing half-assed jobs. Will you please get your shit together and start doing something positive for the USM community, just once?

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the fact that university policies should be more uniform. Although, just how much can the university regulate off-campus housing? Yes, it may be affiliated with the school, but it’s also not school owned property. While safety is of the upmost importance at any university, the line between what USM can or cannot control is very thin. Because of this confusion in the rules, USM does not have the clearest policies in place. What it does have is an amazing response to any safety issues presented to them, which we all should be very proud of.

    What disappoints me about this article is the direct attack on Greek Life. These two incidents in question were isolated and could happen to anyone. If any other student from any other student organization was dealing with mental instability and “created a police stand-off” for example (which, by the way, he plead not guilty to) would it be so much of a concern for the press? I doubt it. This could happen to anyone. Anyone could suffer from a mental breakdown. Anyone could have a run in with the law. How about the incident of a fraternity member being arrested for arson? Why not focus on the fact that he was an RA or a student body president? Could is be because labeling him as a fraternity member somehow makes your point seem more valid due to the misrepresentation of Greek Life in the movies and media? That’s what I would assume.

    This negative press is happening because the two students who just so happen to be involved with these tragedies also just so happen to be in fraternities. You know what isn’t being discussed about Greek Life at USM? How about the fact that Greek Life has the highest GPA of any student organization at USM? How about the fact that at least three USM Greek organizations volunteered at the Swish Out For Cancer event this weekend (yes, despite the relentless rumors going around campus this week about how awful fraternities are) in order to help raise money for cancer research? What about the fact that, despite the recent tragedies, Greek Life has come together to help its fellow fraternities heal and offer as much support as possible while facing a very scary situation.

    The fact that it was deemed necessary to connect the unfortunate tragedies that occurred at USM this week by fraternity affiliation is completely irrelevant. The opinions of the Free Press at USM certainly don’t match the perspectives of its student body.

  • S-M-U

    Question: Are any writers for the Free Press members of Greek Life? No? Okay then, maybe whoever wrote this should do their research instead of making assumptions about Greek Life.