Since 1969, Campus Patrol has been one of the longest running and largest student run organizations in Vassar’s history. Yet in May of 2017, after 48 years of history and service, Patrol will be laid to rest.
Patrol was birthed in the fall of 1969 after members of the Vassar Community expressed concern that the campus was not secure. The student body felt there needed to be a group of vigilant students to help ensure the safety of others. Campus Patrol filled the void and adopted its unofficial motto, “to protect people like you from people like us.” The isolationist mentality aptly describes the social status of Patrol for 2017. Patrol has been criticized by some members of the student body for seeming unapproachable. The criticism is valid; Patrol was created to serve the Vassar community at its deficits, and no community wants to be reminded of its faults, especially not when the reminder manifests itself at a Patrol desk every Thursday through Sunday holding a radio and performing rounds. There are some students in favor of Patrol and some against it, but every community member has an opinion about it. Patrol at its core was to serve as a liaison between students and security, and to be a watchdog for other students. Campus Patrol has been most for reporting medical emergencies, responding to disruptions and addressing safety concerns within the dorms. Through their diligent actions, they have found individuals that were in critical condition–conditions severe enough that if the patrollers had not located them, some would not be with us today. The Patrollers rarely receive proper recognition from the greater community for their efforts. Patrollers simply trudge ahead with their jobs. They are not relieved of their responsibilities either. In a sense, a Patroller will always act as a Patroller, even after they turn in their radios for the night. The job instills a sense of responsibility that remains with the individual long past their tenure at Vassar. Often times when the evening Supervisor (Unit 5) signs off for the night, the feeling of isolation further hits home. At 2:00 in the morning, the Unit walks alone back to their dorm. Patrollers are not concerned with the sleep deprivation, the social martyrdom of weekend exclusion or the lack of appreciation. Instead, they focus their energy on ensuring the continued wellbeing of others. Patrollers are trained to not be concerned with the social consequences, their own reputation or preserving a relationship, but instead are trained to make the hard decisions. A Patroller will never hesitate to call EMS if an individual is severely intoxicated, or hesitate to perform a noise complaint, even though many members of the student body would.
The elimination of Patrol and the creation of the new Community Fellows Position is something that the Office of Residential Life has pushed on the current Patrol employees. The current Student Supervisors were informed of Patrol’s termination in a meeting that lasted an hour. When the Supervisors left, it was painfully clear to them that the decision of Patrol’s future was made without them. In a world without Patrol, will Vassar students feel comfortable if Security walks through the bathrooms in search of individuals in medical need? How is a diminished Security force supposed to pick up the loose ends, such as dorm presence, that Patrol will leave behind? Will the individuals serving as Community Fellows hesitate to make the tough decisions out of social fear and anxiety that comes with knowing that there will be future interactions with the individual? These questions lead to a larger realization within the Vassar Community. It is because Patrol masquerades as the “bad guy” that everyone else can serve as the “good guys,” including the administration. Instead of fostering a culture of peer to peer accountability, the administration should demonstrate their willingness to crack down on unwanted and damaging behaviors with new policies and procedures. With peer to peer accountability, the administration strategically passes off the responsibility (and the liability) to the student body at Vassar and liberates themselves from those tasks. Despite these concerns, the wheels are set in motion and Patrollers must face the fact that Campus Patrol will be no more.
In May of this year, the Patrol Office will close down permanently but the memories will still live on. Patrol would like to thank all of the Supervisors that came before us. You all have taught us everything that we know and one article will never do justice to the amount of hours and work you all have dedicated to this organization. In a final endearing note to your service, the final radio transmission may sound something like this, “Unit 5 to all past and present Patrollers, we thank you for your service and we are signing out for the rest of our nights. How do you all read this transmission?”
“5 by(e) 5.”