Incoming Chief of Campus Safety Victor Clay wants to improve the frequently contentious relationship between Campus Safety and off-campus residents. He attributes much of Campus Safety’s poor reputation with students to an inconsistent enforcement of policy.
“I was reading reports and they would say things like, ‘disturbing the peace,’ ‘disorderly conduct,’ and then you read the narrative of the report and it says, ’10 people having a poker game,'” Clay said. “And I’m thinking, how is that disturbing the peace? It’s just a poker game and somebody doesn’t like the fact that you’re having a good time.”
Occidental’s off-campus policy forbids any behavior resulting from the use of alcohol that may disrupt the community or compromise the rights of others. The policy also states that students who demonstrate inability or unwillingness to abide by college policy, federal, state or city laws and ordinances are subject to disciplinary action from the college, but Clay stressed that students who cooperate with Campus Safety will not face disciplinary action.
“If we contact and we get compliance … then great, have a good time, see you later. No report, no nothing,” Clay said. “We’ll document that we went there, but there’s no report on you saying that you did something wrong.”
Clay also noted that if off-campus parties transpire within reasonable hours with a moderate level of noise, he sees no reason for his officers to get involved.
“I have pool parties that go till six at night,” Clay said. “If you knock on my door and say I’m being too loud, I’m going to be upset if I know I’m not being out of control.”
Four days before Clay’s arrival on campus, Campus Safety appeared to be employing a different policy. On Aug. 29, officers issued Ben Warner (senior) a conduct hearing for a noise complaint stemming from a party at his off-campus residence, even though he said he complied with officers and even solicited their assistance in dispersing guests.
“Apparently, [Campus Safety] is now writing people up if they get any noise complaints,” Warner said. “And in the report they didn’t accurately describe that I had complied with them and then asked them to come in. They said it all happened in one fell swoop.”
But as of a little over three weeks ago, Clay had met with the Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) Senate to discuss these sorts of issues that students encountered in the past.
“He expressed interest in forming a student advisory committee. He has a lot of great ideas,” ASOC President Christopher Weeks said. “In the past ASOC hasn’t really worked with Campus Safety, to my knowledge, and I’m really hoping to change that.”