By Mackenzie Bath
As Lewis & Clark begins the search for a new head of Campus Safety, the administration reaches out to the students for feedback on the candidates. On Sept. 29, applicant Jerome Harris spoke and was interviewed by a group of students, staff and faculty who came to the Council Chamber.
Sixteen people attended, constituted by four students and 12 staff and faculty.
“I lament the fact that not more people have shown up, but it’s not a unique situation,” Emergency Response Coordinator Jason Holmgern said.
Director of Conferences and Events Sherron Stonecypher points out that Campus Safety is an issue that affects everyone in the LC community.
“The selected person is going to have a huge impact on all three campuses,” Stonecypher said.
Students and faculty alike questioned Harris about his goals and ideals for LC. Harris’ background is in police work, and attendees were concerned that his experience might make a transition to campus safety difficult. He reassured those in attendance.
“Catching criminals is not the focus here, nor should it be,” said Harris.
While it is the job of the police to punish those who break the laws, Harris understands that students can be given the benefit of the doubt on a college campus.
“If someone makes a mistake, they need to be seen as someone who made a mistake,” Harris said.
Harris would like to move into the campus safety sector because he has a passion for helping students, and this will allow him to continue doing the things he previously did as volunteer work. He mentioned working with schools in his free time.
Many people on campus are worried about the possibility of arming Campus Safety, in light of LC’s new President Wim Wiewel’s past action at Portland State University (PSU). Attendees raised this concern to Harris at the session.
“I know that Campus Safety is not armed, and I don’t think that arming them is necessarily the answer,” Harris said. “They don’t have guns. That doesn’t mean they’re helpless.”
In regards to dealing with crises of mental health, Harris said that he has dealt with many instances of this issue in the past.
“The avenues open to me here are going to be different,” Harris said. “But it’s still a team approach. I still have paramedics and the police. The resources are different, but I don’t view them as more limited.”
Students and faculty were curious about how he would respond to this important issue.
“It’s all about outreach, which has many different shapes and forms,” Harris said, regarding how he would approach difference and diversity within the student body.
Harris wants to be involved with the student body so that they know the people in Campus Safety.
“If you don’t have relationships with the students, faculty and staff, then nothing else will follow,” Harris said.
He expressed confidence in his ability to bring Campus Safety Officers together with the campus through school events, casual encounters and other forms of outreach.
In a position of leadership, Harris described himself as laid-back. He plans on having Campus Safety be a group that all students feel comfortable with.
“I don’t want any single person to think I’m unapproachable or the department is, or that they’re gonna be discriminated against,” Harris said. “I don’t think respect and courtesy have to be a different language for different people.”
ASLC President Marissa Valdez ’18 attended and proposed many questions to Harris.
Elise Coryell ’20 attended and plans on going to all of the sessions.
“Campus Safety is such a huge part of campus living, and I’m shocked at how few people are showing up to these, because this is a decision that is going to greatly affect our campus,” Coryell said. “I was especially disappointed that none of the ASLC Senate candidates were there.”