Student Distrust of DPS Prompts Procedural Change

Jacob DeCarli ’22, Managing Editor

Dickinson Public Safety (DPS) practice and policy regarding noise complaints has been revised to follow a consistent pattern in an effort to increase transparency for students. 

According to Dee Danser, assistant VP of compliance and campus safety, student dissatisfaction and concerns prompted a reevaluation of noise complaint procedures. Danser said that students had expressed concerns that DPS enforcement of noise complaints as inconsistent, leading to the decision to create a consolidated policy to prevent future student confusions. “[I]f it’s just noise completely, then we will talk to the host and give a warning,” said Danser, but she noted that students may be referred to conduct if they are also in violation of other college policies. Danser also explained that DPS enacted the procedure to increase transparency between DPS and students. “[W]e want to people to know if they have a party and we roll up this is the expectation,” said Danser. 

Olivia Greenleaf ’20 added that “as a senior I have definitely had my fair share of experiences with DPS and I think it’s a little ridiculous; I do not find them particularly trust worthy.” Greenleaf described one incident where DPS officers followed her and her friends several blocks into central Carlisle; “DPS screamed at my friend because she didn’t realize she wasn’t allowed to be somewhere and it sent her into a panic attack”

Dean of Students George Stroud explained that he is aware of a student perception that DPS targets parties. Stroud asserted this perception is inaccurate however, arguing “they’re not out there looking for parties. There’s this perception that DPS is snooping under doors trying to find parties. That’s not it. What drives DPS to these places is the noise.”

Danser clarified that DPS does not address parties, but noise complaints. Danser added that most noise complaints come from students on other students. “It was a chance to talk to students ahead of time about community impact of noise,” said Danser. Stroud added that if there is “a noise complaint or they happen to notice the noise level is accessible, they will address it.”

Some students are skeptical of this however. Mason McIntyre ’22 explained “I don’t particularly have much trust when it comes to DPS, I don’t really think they can protect campus in a meaningful way if their number one priority seems to be busting parties.”

Some students however believe DPS does not target parties, instead targeting drug usage. “My experience isn’t so much that DPS targets parties so much as marijuana” said Greenleaf, “I personally can name about a dozen people who have between one and four alcohol charges/issues with the school that continued to underage drink and be stupid because there was no real punishment – no real enforcement.”

Students that break noise policies are directed towards Residence Life & Housing as part of as part of the conduct process. Characterizing the conduct process as educational, Director of Residence Life & Housing Amanda George said  “we hope that students will have the opportunity to learn.” When students break policy as a first offense, they are given the opportunity to learn more about community expectations and policies. This is an effort to prevent future breaches in policy. 

George explained that this educational approach to conduct is not new for Residence Life & Housing. Elizabeth Farner, assistant dean of students and conduct administration, confirmed that student conduct procedures following an educational route is not a new process.

“It’s about educating students how they should consider others—even when they’re having fun,” added Stroud, “We want to get to dispelling this notion that DPS is out there looking for parties.” 

Some students did express that current DPS practice is beneficial. “I feel like DPS doesn’t go after students as much and are doing a good job” said Sam Hrncir ’20, “as long as hazing and aggressive actions have zero tolerance I feel there’s a good outlook.

According to Danser, trust between students and DPS has been built more recently. “We are trying to put the expectation back on students […] to conduct themselves appropriately and have the understanding what you do impacts your neighbors,” Danser said. George agreed that transparent and educational policies for student conduct creates trust for students.