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Letters to the Editor: Public Safety crossed the thin red line

Dear Mills Family:

Recently, my daughter was confronted by a thoroughly vexed Public Safety officer as she parked near her dorm. He was upset that she had several parking tickets. She had two other students in the car. He threatened to give one of them a ticket for recklessly opening the passenger door and threatened to have my daughter’s car towed. She agreed to park more carefully and assumed the tickets would be billed to her account, as was the case with other students. This was about 8 or 9 p.m. in late January.

A week later, she was ordered at the gate to see the Sergeant in his office now. She declined. It was after 9 p.m. Again, she had other students with her. One is an RA in another dorm. She parked, entered the dorm with the other students and went to her room. Sometime later, someone banged on her door loudly. When she heard keys jingling, she knew it was the same Public Safety officer. She was alone and absolutely afraid. He had the key to her room. Then she heard another voice in the hall, and the sergeant apparently left.

When I heard about this, I asked my daughter to request a meeting to try and get clarification on why she was being followed to her room at night for parking tickets. Every time I’ve visited, I see people parking illegally. There is a parking problem at Mills. Now it seemed to be a personal issue with Public Safety.

In the meeting in early February-for which I had to take a day away from work-I met Karen Maggio who represented Public Safety’s point of view. According to Maggio, the officer is a highly decorated retired Oakland Police Officer who was angry and frustrated. This ‘angry’ man surely must have had some prior training in his career about how to deal with the public. At the meeting was another student who was present at the scene of the “I could tow your car” episode. She and my daughter both clearly said, “We are afraid of this officer; he threatened us.”

This was apparently disregarded, and as to this date, I have received no plausible explanation of why my daughter, an Ethel Moore resident and Mills student, was treated as a sort of fleeing felon and continues to be publicly described as such by the head of Public Safety, Michael Lopez.

Last week, my daughter received a bill for parking tickets. It’s $240. I’ll send a check, but what has been lost is our faith in the idyllic island climate of Mills. I have asked my daughter to look elsewhere for graduate school. Perhaps she’ll be safer.

Judith A. Becker

Letters to the Editor: Public Safety crossed the thin red line

I am not a one-night stand. I have a life-long relationship with this college, and how generous I am in that relationship depends a whole lot on what happens in the next few weeks. The College is allowing a penny-wise and pound-foolish strategy, and I’m fed up. I will not sit by for another moment while I have my name smeared by the most hated man on campus, my integrity and honesty questioned by his boss, and be dismissed outright because $240 of my current money is more important than my potential contributions as a donor over the course of my life.

All I am guilty of is bad parking. I have 9 parking tickets. There is nothing malicious here; simply irresponsible.
By now, many of you know the rest of this story: my parking tickets and inadvertent elusiveness resulted in a very traumatic encounter with a Public Safety officer. I have posted both my entire accounting and the college’s official response on my Facebook page, I encourage everyone to examine my “discrepancies” for themselves. Needless to say, the point was clear: HMDS believes parking tickets is a larger concern than our safety and sense of peace. Here’s why:

Every time Public Safety issues a parking ticket, there is a monetary incentive for them to do so. There is a monetary disincentive for Public Safety to spend time patrolling the perimeters; or purchase new equipment that will keep track of who comes onto our campus, or check strange vans parked in the Richards lot.

You get the point.

Here’s what needs to happen: Public Safety should no longer be under the auspices of Karen Maggio, the Vice President of Business Affairs. Until Public Safety is held accountable by the Division of Student Life (Joanna Iwata, ASMC, Rape Trauma team, etc.), we will continue down this dangerous path of our safety being primarily a business decision. Think about it: should Public Safety fall under the category of “Business Affairs” or “Student Life?”

For the past couple of years, I have defended this administration. I have dismissed these radical student claims that there are self-serving, hostile administrators on campus. And for this doubt in my fellow Mills women, I offer only my humblest apology. You were right, and I was wrong.

But there’s also an apology due from this Shepherd of Safety. We are owed an apology for the rape last semester, and the subsequent handling of it. We are owed an apology for all the times you have screamed at us, threatened us, targeted us, ignored our call to DO something about the front gate, and turned us into the enemy to be made examples of. Be very, very clear about this: it is time for your resignation. We’ve had enough of you.

We categorize leaders into three roles: the hero, the fool, or the villain. And each meets their appropriate end. I’ll leave it at that.

Laurel Fedor