Student behavior prompts housing officials to hire cops to police dorms

Nik seu/ Ka Leo O Hawai‘i

By Caitlin Stagg,

Police officers will likely be present around campus dorms now that the Student Housing Services at the University of Hawai‘i Manoa have issued a new policy. The policy is regarding campus life for students who are residents in Hale Noelani and Hale Wainani dorms. The policy is on the subject of partying and behavior that has been getting out of control according to Student Housing Services Representatives.

The student housing representatives held two meetings with residents, staff members and RAs to voice their response to the new policy. A number of students showed up and expressed their concern about the policy calling for the Honolulu Police Department on campus.

Communicating with residents

Associate Director for Residential Life Nick Sweeton understands that no one wants the campus to turn into a police state. “I understand that it is intimidating to have police near our living areas,” Sweeton stated. “But residents need to understand that this is being brought about for a reason.”

Sweeton explained the reasons for this new policy: “The way we had been dealing with things just wasn’t working and we were experiencing a lot of disrespectful behavior toward our university staff members here at the Noelani and Wainani dorms.” He described the issue the RAs are having with residents slamming doors or being verbally abusive toward RAs when they are trying to issue warnings or citations for noise complaints or other matters. “This was the main reason we decided to have HPD present on weekends, to see if that would help our RAs out at all.”

The Office of Residential Life sent out an email to the Noelani and Wainani residents that outlined the new policy and regulations. The email stressed that the safety of the residents and staff was their No. 1 priority when creating this new policy. Some students, however, do not feel that this policy would make them feel safer or make them happier.

Effective ways to handle the problem?

Senior biology major David Contreras lives in Hale Wainani and says that he does not think the presence of HPD officers will improve the safety on campus or make the partying go away. “I personally don’t want the police standing outside my door every weekend,” Contreras stated. “College students are going to party no matter what and the presence of the police is just going to piss people off.” Contreras also addressed the fact that there have been multiple burglaries at Noelani and Wainani this semester. “If they think that having a policeman on campus will help get rid of the burglaries, that is crazy. The policeman cannot see all over at once so he can do nothing to stop the break-ins.”

At the public meetings other students, including one who was the victim of a burglary this semester, said they believe SHS staff should be finding new and more effective ways of dealing with the break-ins rather than just hiring one police officer to hopefully intimidate people on the weekends. Many of the students also said that they would rather have Campus Security monitoring the campus on the weekends as opposed to HPD. Sweeton agreed that Campus Security could really help out with the issues.

“We really appreciate the help we have gotten from Campus Security,” Sweeton said. “They have a lot of responsibilities on campus but have taken the time to help us out in the housing area.”

Sweeton and other staff members took notes at the community meetings, and he informed the residents that they would discuss and evaluate the input gathered. The housing staff will meet at the end of this month to discuss how the new policy is going and if they have made progress where they wanted to.