Help Them Help You

After squash practice on a typical Monday afternoon, I enter the girls locker room to change out of my athletic apparel when all of a sudden, a loud knock on the door captured my attention. Before I could turn around, the student had been let into the locker room by another student who had not even questioned her identity. I am well aware that the new security system, which will allow students to access dormitories and academic buildings with their BlueCards, will be implemented starting this summer. Issues regarding campus security do not lie in BlueCard systems or the traditional key. Rather, the student culture, which blatantly dismisses the gravity of safety, contributes to many of the security problems we face on campus.

By renovating the security system on campus and implementing the BlueCard system, the Office of Public Safety (OPP) and Maureen Ferris, Director of Risk Management, intend to equip the students at Andover with a more reliable security system. Yet, if students continue to admit anyone who shouts or knocks on the door to the locker rooms or any other secured area without verifying the person’s identity first, no security system will be sufficient.

My intention is not to chastise students who have ever opened the door for a person who is locked out. Most of us feel obligated to perform this duty because we can empathize with the student standing outside the door, frantically glancing at the time and distressed about the thought that the bus to an away game will leave in less than five minutes. I am also guilty of granting multiple students access to the locker rooms unquestioningly. It was not until this year, however, that I began questioning how I can ensure that I only open doors for community members.

Many students and teachers consider Andover to be safe place, but we, along with other schools and campuses across the nation, still face the threat of a terrorist attack or school shooting every day. According to BBC News, there were 9,600 attacks targeting educational facilities in 70 countries between 2009 and 2013. Andover students too often disregard the very real possibility that our school could be the next one under a violent attack.

Many students and even some adults at Andover underestimate the importance of security on campus. Now that we have established a new security system, we must instruct students how to properly take advantage of this arrangement. As a community, we discuss an extensive range of topics, including sexual assault, hazing, sexuality, gender and race, which are all intertwined with the issue of safety. Our campus is protected by a qualified team of public safety officers, but we should always remember to prioritize the value of safety.