Monday, April 14, 2008

In defense of UPD

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz on GWBlogspot and in the Hatchet regarding the student who entered the Health and Wellness Center without her GWorld card.  The overwhelming response has been that UPD overacted in pressing charges against this young woman.  In this light, I would like to offer a defense of UPD. 

First, it's been reported that the young woman in question had tried to enter the fitness center without her GWorld card, and after being told a number of times she could not enter without a card, she exited the center and entered through an adjacent building, according to the Hatchet article:
HellWell staff initially told Jennifer Sales she could not enter the gym because she did not have her student identification. She said she then left the building to search for the card, but could not find it.

Police reports state she repeatedly tried to enter the facility without permission. She said she finally entered the adjacent JuiceZone area to eat, which does not require a GWorld.

When the building staff had their backs turned, she said she took an elevator to the fourth floor and began to workout on an elliptical machine. A staff member reported her presence to a gym manager.
Basically, the student was (almost) breaking and entering (though without the breaking part). When UPD attempted to speak with her, her reply was 'I'll be off [the elliptical machine] in ten minutes'.  It seems that this woman had little respect for the rules of the Health and Fitness center, and even less for the UPD officers who responded to the incident, since she couldn't even pause her workout to calmly explain the situation to the officer at the scene. 
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we live and attend school in a large city and most GW buildings are surrounded by other city life.  This means that security of the GW buildings cannot be lax.  In order to keep GW a safe and comfortable place for students and staff, security needs to be top-notch.  This means requiring a GWorld ID in order to enter buildings that are specific to GW and not intended for use by the larger DC community.  The young woman at the fitness center was a GW student and she had simply lost her card, which is inconvenient at most.  She could have taken the fifteen minutes and $25 to get a new card in order to use the fitness center if it meant that much to her.  But she blatantly disregarded the security needs of the university. But, at any major university in a metropolitan area, it is important to remember that if you can't prove you are a GW student, then UPD can't prove you are either. In order to keep campus secure, that proof needs to exist.  

I feel bad for this girl, because she's probably dealing with a much larger problem than she originally intended, but I don't think UPD overreacted.  They are expected to keep campus safe and secure, and that's what they were doing.  I appreciate their work, and the rest of the GW community should as well. 

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