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Staff, NDSP inaction fosters apathy

Editorial Staff | Friday, November 12, 2004

Compared to other colleges, Notre Dame is a relatively safe place. Rarely does anyone hear of crime or security problems on campus. But this week, there was a security problem – and not many people seemed to notice.

Sunday morning, a man was reportedly seen in the Pasquerilla West showers between the hours of 7 and 8:30 a.m. – a clear Du Lac violation. This man is suspected of committing vandalism acts within this female dorm, consisting of sexually explicit phrases written on white boards, doors and shower stalls throughout the building.

This situation appears to be rather serious, especially at Notre Dame. However, both the Pasquerilla West hall staff and NDSP failed to inform the campus community of this severe safety and security breach in a timely fashion.

Residents of the dorm were not informed about the incident until 11:30 a.m. Monday morning when they received a silent message, more than 24 hours after the actual incident took place. Monday evening, the residents of Pasquerilla West received an e-mail detailing the events and steps they should take to ensure their safety as well as a copy of that email in their rooms. The same night, NDSP issued a campus-wide security alert.

These methods of informing people were effective. By using different mediums to reach people – email, phone messages, signs – the hall staff of Pasquerilla West made sure every resident knew. NDSP also made sure signs were distributed across campus. All of these efforts were completed by Monday night.

But what about Sunday night? The hall staff could make the argument that the girls who saw the intruder did not report the incident right away. And yes, these residents should have told the hall staff immediately when they saw the man.

But the issue remains that the incident was reported at 3:45 p.m. Sunday to NDSP and more than 19 hours elapsed before the first alert was issued. The residents of Pasquerilla West deserved to know what happened. They deserved to know right away, so they could be aware of what was going on and take the appropriate precautions. The campus of Notre Dame also needed to know what happened so they too could be aware.

But what happened was too little, too late.

The residents of Pasquerilla West were already apathetic. They weren’t concerned about what happened, but instead considered it a fluke, or just a one-time occurrence. The fact of the matter is that a man was in the dorm, in the shower areas, and during that time, the dorm was vandalized. Maybe residents aren’t concerned because by the time they found out, the incident was over in their minds.

Perhaps Pasquerilla West’s hall staff didn’t have the entire story by Sunday night. However, the safety of the Pasquerilla West residents should trump an ongoing investigation when there is evidence of an apparent security breach. Even if the story was incomplete, residents needed to know about this incident so they could be infomred and aware.

Perhaps hall staff and NDSP didn’t want to scare students unnecessarily. But sometimes being just a little on edge, just a little more aware, can make a big difference in one’s safety.

The hall staff and NDSP gave them the impression that this security breach wasn’t important enough to tell them right away, and as a result, apathy appears to pervade at least portions of both Pasquerilla West and the campus community.

But it was a big deal, and it still is. So why doesn’t everybody care?