The pressures of college take many tolls on students. Yet it is not so bad that students resort to drinking away their troubles at 3 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon. The AlliedBarton security officers at the residence halls, however, think otherwise. As many have noticed, security guards have been searching backpacks for alcohol in many of the dorms during afternoon hours on weekdays. This is a new level of invasion for Temple and forces us to question whether we’re attending a university or a prison.
Some students have actually been told by security guards that they will be searching all types of bags that enter the residence halls all hours of the day, everyday. Detective Agoi Ombima of Campus Safety Services says that “anyone gives up their rights to be subject to search [when they enter a residence hall].” He did, however, maintain that there is currently no actual new policy regarding bag searches. If there is a difference in search frequency, it is by the prerogative of the security guards.
Yet there is a difference – an important one. Searching duffle bags and purses is understandable on Thursday nights and into the weekends. Checking backpacks on weekday afternoons simply to find textbooks sends out a staggering message of distrust – distrust from the university to its paying customers. This issue raises the question of who is truly working for whom?
Temple’s role is to educate and protect; we are not paying them to baby-sit. It is wonderful that the university makes such ardent attempts to divert students from alcohol. But these are the years where people need to start taking responsibility for their actions, and if they choose to risk getting alcohol poising, it is their choice – a poor decision, but nevertheless, a decision.
In addition, as if the concept of resident assistants weren’t demeaning enough, if the security guards need to crack down so hard, what now is the role of the RAs? It should be their responsibility to patrol their hallways and ensure the safety of the residents. If the security guards feel the need to search every bag that enters the building at all hours of the day, the RAs clearly are not doing their jobs efficiently.
A residence hall is supposed to feel like a home. When people return to their normal homes, they rarely undergo searches. This stringent policy creates a cold feeling, one that doesn’t say ‘home sweet home.’ It says, ‘dinner’s at 7 p.m.; pass it on!’