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Students’ feelings mixed about Public Safety

Public Safety truck parked next to the front gate. (Lauren Sliter)

Students at Mills College disagree about how effectively Public Safety keeps members of the community safe.

Some students feel safer because of Public Safety’s constant surveillance of campus. According to first-years Flora Winters and Emily Kaput, Public Safety is extremely responsive to students’ calls and concerns.

Winters described an incident in which she and Kaput were hanging out in the Commuter Lounge with male EF students who offered them alcohol.

As the men became rowdy, she remembered being thankful for Public Safety’s interference — at the time, an officer was making his nightly rounds of checking and locking buildings on campus.

“They defused a dangerous situation,” she said.

Besides monitoring the front gate, responding to alarms that go off on campus and providing support at events, students who feel unsafe walking from one part of the campus to another are able to call Public Safety for an escort — though pick up times are not always immediate.

“They are great ride-givers,” Winters said, noting that she and her friends have taken ample advantage of the escort system while at Mills. In addition, officers will let residents into buildings if a student doesn’t have their key.

But not all students feel Public Safety is doing its best to keep members of the Mills community safe.

Graduate student Regene Polk Ross said in an e-mail that Public Safety refused to escort her to the Laurel District after her night class last fall, where she had left her car earlier in the day when its battery died.

“I begged with the person on the phone in Public Safety and even offered to pay,” she said.

According to Niviece Robinson, the Assistant Director of Public Safety, the department does not transport students off campus for liability reasons, though she said it does provide rides to the Laurel District for students who wish to shop there during the day.

Ross said Public Safety’s policies forced her to put herself in danger.

“Not only was I hurt and disappointed by their attitude,” she said, “but I think Public Safety needs to be empowered to actually improve public safety of the Mills public.”

Despite student criticisms, Sergeant Scott Brandis said Public Safety tries very hard to meet the community’s standards and that it has implemented extra training to do so, including new policies to mitigate < a href=””>racial profiling.