Editor's Note: What about the students, RIT?
by Alyssa Jackson | published Feb. 5th, 2016
Recently it was made known to the campus that decisions had been made at the administrative level to arm a portion of RIT's Public Safety on campus in anticipation of a possible dangerous situation. It has been made known that these long guns would not be used in any situation other than one in which there is an armed intruder on campus attempting to harm students and faculty.
I'm not going to comment on whether or not I agree with the decision to arm Public Safety and train them in the use of guns because, ultimately, I don't know that having guns on campus will make RIT's campus any safer or more dangerous. Situations vary depending on a variety of circumstances and there's no real way to know if this is the right measure for RIT. We can only trust the administrators and people in charge that they are making a good decision.
What upsets me, and I believe many students, was the lack of student opinion involved in the decision process. In a Student Government meeting last semester, President Destler said that no student opinion or students themselves were involved in discussions concerning the decision until after the decision had already been made. When it was asked if students would be involved going forward, he admitted that he hadn't initially thought of that. While there are going to be efforts to include students on campus now, I have to say the same thing Chris Denninger, director of Public Safety, said in my interview with him (pg. 8): Is there value added at this point?
Most of the decisions regarding the policy have already been made, and any further decisions will be based on what is already being practiced in police departments and other college campuses. It seems to me as though RIT is allowing students to be involved now as a last ditch attempt to placate us for being upset that our opinions weren't considered in the first place. The decision process was hidden from the people who would be most affected or concerned by this policy, the student body. In fact, several months ago I heard rumors of this new decision and asked Chris Denninger about it. He completely denied any such decision being made, but in his interview said that talks of this started well over a year ago.
This is not the first example of RIT blatantly disregarding or ignoring student opinion or keeping a majority of the campus in the dark regarding large decisions affecting everyone. The no-smoking policy was effectively decided on until students became upset that they had not been considered. The entire policy had to be redone because of it. The average student pays an arm and a leg to attend this university, and we do so because we love the opportunities that are afforded to us here. RIT should be making more of an effort to include students in decisions that will affect them and generations after them.