My Frustration with the Department of Public Safety

Sarah Manderbach ‘22, Associate Opinion Editor

During my first year here at Dickinson, I felt safe on campus. Hearing during orientation how kind the Department of Public Safety (DPS) was gave me a lot of hope. They would be there in the case that you felt threatened or if you went too overboard at a party. When I locked myself out countless times within my first semesters, they were there almost immediately to help me get back inside and asked about what I liked to do on campus. It was an overwhelming sense of safety and comfort, which is essential.

This year, on the other hand, has been a brutal slap in the face of how there are also the bad sides to DPS, and my experiences with them this year have left nothing but a sour taste in my mouth. 

My first bad experience with DPS was when I stayed out late. As someone who now lives far off campus, walking home at 1 am is something I’m never thrilled about doing. When this happened, this was when the shuttle schedule recently changed. I went to try and grab a shuttle and the time changed entirely. I would have had to wait another hour to get a shuttle.

My friends at gaming club suggested I call DPS to get a ride or walk home. I did call the DPS non-emergency line, asking the officer who picked up if there was a way I could get that ride home. The officer asked where I was and I gave him my location. He responded by saying that he didn’t know where that was, and he told me that I should just get a shuttle, which would come in one hour, instead of getting a safety ride from a DPS officer.

I got off the phone and I felt hurt. As a student, shouldn’t I have the right to ask for a safe ride home and not feel denied? I didn’t want to bother my friends to leave gaming club just to take me home. As a result, I had to wait an additional hour to get the shuttle home. 

Even this semester, I still struggle with finding ways to get home if the shuttle decides not to come. I waited over 15 minutes for a shuttle to come only for it to never do so.

The next time was when there was a person on the floor below me playing music so loud that I couldn’t sleep. As the lazy college student that I am, I didn’t want to get up from my bed just to tell them to be quiet. I called DPS and asked if there was a way they could come to my dorm to ask them to turn down the volume. They agreed and supposedly came. 

Twenty minutes after they arrived, the noise still hadn’t stopped, so I went down and stopped the music myself. The next day, I found out from a local housemate that as DPS was leaving, they were frisking and examining her car and no one else’s, as if there was something suspicious with it. For her it was extremely terrifying and I understand that. They investigate her car without a reasonable cause and that is scary.

Through a close friend of mine, he told me of his bad experience with DPS. The fire alarm had gone off from a power outage that happened last semester and was blaring throughout the house for about two hours. One of his housemates called DPS asking for someone to help shut it off, only for them to be promptly yelled at that officers had better things to do. The alarm continued to blare on.

I understand that some students have had nothing but great experiences with the Department of Public Safety, and that’s great. But I am sure that most students on this campus have had at least one or more bad experiences that made them feel that they don’t feel safe on this campus or that the DPS officers do not care about students. 

Even now, because of these incidents happening to not only me but also my friends, I don’t even feel safe calling DPS because I feel that they might not even handle it in the right manner.