Opinion: Campus Burglaries Indicate a Pattern of Negligence
By Brianna Bruccoleri, Guest Columnist
The burglary of 343 Carlisle Street on Dec. 22, 2018 was the first of a myriad of on-campus break-ins. An array of burglaries from over five streets which hold college-owned properties and student-living facilities followed. Not even fraternity housing held immunity from Gettysburg College’s repeated pattern of gross negligence–which is now only being accentuated by previous irresponsible actions, such as the Hanson Hall mold issue and the administration’s ability to provide and adequate subsequent response, or the reported harassment which students experienced by an on-campus construction worker that was contracted by the College. And so, rather unsurprisingly, yet another horror caused by this lack of accountability against the College has reigned on campus and impacted students. Over Winter Break, a handful of reports concerning more student housing complexes being burglarized were accounted for.
The remainder of this article will explore three steps that the College should consider in order to improve its accountability efforts and provide the campus–in which students’ legal guardians pay tens of thousands of dollars for–with adequate safety efforts. Currently, it is not much of a stretch, if any, to accuse the College of a repeated pattern of gross negligence. The College, time and time again, has proven that it is more concerned with its financial gain, capital, and reputation rather than provide an atmosphere with includes health and safety. The suggested steps in the following concerns itself exclusively with examples which the College should have followed and should follow moving forward with the repeated burglary crimes; however, the College must become more fluid and adapt to all current health and safety concerns in a multitude of other student related areas. Overall, I urge that the College re-examine its specific and recent incidences, policies, reactions, and conduct concerning student life and its current compatibility with student health and safety.
- The placement and quantity (or lack thereof, so to speak) of security cameras is borderline frightening. It is commonplace, for example, for a student’s car to be hit in a Gettysburg parking lot but for the College to lack the ability to provide footage showing the license plate of the offender. The majority of campus housing options do not contain any sort of security camera within its main points of entrance and exit, so offenders may enter or exit as they please with no footage to supplement potential criminal charges with evidence. Statistically speaking, a visible camera can deter crime and aid in the prosecution of a crime event; however, the chances of Gettysburg College succeeding in either of these goals with its current security camera situation is highly unlikely and even laughable.
- Again, the specific security measures in which the College has adopted are inadequate at best and horrifying at the worst. The latest report of burglaries came after the burglar entered on-campus residents by breaking through a window and using a blunt object to obtain forced access to student dorms. Unfortunately, the College has yet to invest in window sensors for any of its on-campus residencies. So, if an individual breaks a window, the College security will have absolutely no idea of it until a report is released. As for the ability of an intruder to gain access to rooms–students need better locks which should also have reinforcement mechanisms. There is no point in having doors which automatically lock if the locks are so easy to break into, anyways. A student dorm is a student’s home–valuable possessions are stored within the walls. It is not the student’s responsibility to ensure that all items within the room are properly secured. A student should not have to lock their valuables within the already locked room, which is on campus property. That is the responsibility and liability of the College–this is a point which they should reconsider moving forward.
- DPS, like over most winter breaks, was not as aware or supplied as it should have been. This pattern of burglaries has occurred while classes were in session, but was pertinent during Thanksgiving break. DPS, thus, should have increased patrol and awareness the moment that classes ended. They should have been aware that a lack of student presence meant that the campus was grounds for burglary, once again. However, this was not the case. Sigma Nu fraternity was burglarized and subsequently 223 Carlisle Street–which ended in the conviction of the offender. Important to note is that a security camera did not lead to his capture. It was not due to the sounds of an alarm post-break-in or due to the quick and diligent eye of a patrolling DPS officer. No, it took DPS quite some time for them to realized that the building which is located no more than 800 feet from them was broken into. By this point, multiple student rooms were broken into and burglarized.
The events which have occurred on-campus were avoidable, had it not been for the College’s lack of priority and overwhelming abundance of negligence. From this, dozens of students must pay to live in houses which were once broken into; their possessions once handled by a soon-to-be convicted felon. I urge the College to, again, reconsider its current priorities concerning student health and safety because, unfortunately, this is not the first time in which a student has called out the College for its gross negligence and lack of ability to care for its students’ health and safety.