The College of Wooster installed three new security cameras along Beall Avenue this summer in an attempt to curtail a long history of harassment along that street. The cameras sit at the north and south ends of campus and the Lowry crosswalk.
The project, taken up last spring, came about at the request of students who felt that having a documented account of traffic would either curb harassment incidents or at least allow for easier apprehension of harassers via recordings of car models and plate numbers.
Over the years, students have reported a wide variety of attacks along Beall Avenue, ranging from racially or sexually charged slurs to thrown bottles and food to a singular but nevertheless malicious blow-dart attack.
“The hope is that the cameras will serve as a deterrent factor for those who would harass students or community members,” said Dean of Students Kurt Holmes.
In addition, Director of Security and Protective Services Steve Glick noted that two more cameras will be installed on the emergency phone towers being placed near the Andrews and Gault libraries. Concerns about the cameras being used by security to retroactively punish students for various misdemeanors are, however, unfounded.
“We want to do everything we can to make students feel safe in the community,” remarked Senior Associate Dean of Students Carolyn Buxton. “And not just students – staff, faculty and guests included. We want to have a very positive experience here at the College.”
Deans Buxton and Holmes also pointed out that, while the harassment incidents are offensive, as well as potentially physically and emotionally harmful, the harassers are not indicative of the mindset of the larger Wooster community.
“We’ve seen a great pattern of collaboration with city and community leaders,” said Dean Holmes. “The bad facets are typically a small portion of our community, and we all have the desire to curtail their actions.”
Or, as Buxton put it – “Students love the friendliness of the community, and the community appreciates the presence of students. But there are a few eggheads, and they have always been here.”
So what can students do in the meantime to protect themselves against the inevitable egghead?
“Nothing will replace students being ever vigilant,” said Dean Buxton. “Don’t walk alone, walk the interior of campus instead of along Beall and respect the community and people around you.”