SGE talks Safety and Security

Seeking to cultivate a culture of care between employees and students, the Office of Student Growth and Engagement (SGE) presented “Conversations with Campus Safety”, an event aimed at growing trust and humanizing professionals in their roles at the College, on Thursday, Feb. 17. 

Director of Safety and Security Arlene Sabo and Sergeant Dyrell Walker, in addition to students and faculty, broke into groups and discussed possible benefits to meaningful collaborations with campus safety, obstacles to making these connections and initial steps to take in order to make such connections, according to Sabo. 

“We see this conversation as a foundation to build upon in order to find more ways to engage with Vassar resources such as Campus Safety,” Sabo stated in a written correspondence, adding, “We plan on joining in some events/meetings with the goal of continuing to get to know each other and to learn more about how we can best address the safety concerns of our community.”

Sabo added, “The event went very well from our perspective. It was fun getting to know each other a bit and very rewarding to engage in such important conversation.” 

Walker said he hopes that this talk would encourage more understanding between Vassar community members. He said, “I think the main thing I want to share from this talk is that despite any titles or confusion that may occur in our day-to-day interactions, at the end of the day, we are all humans.” He continued, “Overall we have the same goals of having a safe and healthy experience here as part of the Vassar community.”

Anabel Varghese ’24, a student who attended the event, said, “I was never sure of what role Safety and Security played on campus. I’ve always been apprehensive about finding out because I thought they were like the police. I think the event helped clarify the role of Safety and Security on campus as more of an information source.” 

Sabo said, “I am impressed by our students at Vassar and my Vassar colleagues. I think Vassar at its core is made up of caring people who are always striving to do better. Meetings like this are exemplary of our core values.”

Last semester, a number of incidents occurred between students and Campus Safety and Security officers, including an officer being hit in the upper chest with a bottle while dispersing an overgrown party in the Terrace Apartment (TA) outdoor space on Oct. 8. 

According to Director of the LGBTQ+ and Gender Resources Danushi Fernando, the SGE’s main goal was to find meaningful ways for students, administrators and Campus Safety employees to work together in creating more caring interactions. 

“These incidents did come up during the conversation, but they were explored through a solution-focused lens,” Fernando said. Last semester, the Campus Climate Education and Support Team (CCEST) hosted “Vassar Culture: The Glows and Grows of Being on Campus, A Conversation about Campus Climate and Your Vassar Experience.” Fernando said the incidents also came up during that event. “Similarly, our conversation last week was about giving students space to talk about what matters to them,” she added. While the event was not a direct response to the earlier incidents, she said, “[It] certainly is part of so many of our conversations this year.”

According to Fernando, SGE will hold their next event in collaboration with Counseling Services and the Case Management, Advocacy, Resources and Education (CARE) Office, called “De-Stress Desserts” on March 2. She said, “Centered on demystifying mental health and wellness processes on campus… We hope to see many of our students and interested Vassar community members at the event.”

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