Opinion — Only We Can Prevent Violence

Ripon College Days

One way the United States reacted to 9/11 violence was with the Patriot Act, limiting civil liberties in order to increase the security of the nation as a whole. The discussion surrounding the legitimacy and appropriateness of the Patriot Act is currently raging nationwide.

At the Ripon level, safety and security also remain issues important to the student body, especially in wake of recent violence. On campus, however, it would be unwise to follow the federal government’s example and react to such violent incidents — and the fear surrounding them–with a Patriot Act-like response. Instead, we should take responsibility and take care of the problem ourselves from the bottom up, without the imposition of new security protocols from above, protocols designed to make us “safer” by setting more rigid limits on our behavior. There are two initial steps in this process.

The first step is to repair the damaged relationship students have with the community following the latest incident at or around Merriman House during early morning April 25, when the Ripon Police Department was called to deal with the aftermath of violence apparently caused by people who had been invited to campus by students. The police apparently found chaos. We need to make an effort to show that such chaos is not the essence of our campus community. This means that those involved need to come forward to the police and to college officials with information about who the violent perpetrators were.

The second step is more general. We need to take responsibility for the guests we invite to campus. We shouldn’t need to register them with college administrators. That would be too much like the Patriot Act. Nor should we require a gestapo-like security guard force to protect ourselves from ourselves. We need to self-regulate our own behavior, and be reasonably prepared for circumstances when the behavior of our invited guests may not be appropriate to the standards of our community.

Therefore, in addition to students stepping up to the plate, the administration also needs to make clear that it will enforce the existing regulations protecting the student body. This means that students who invite guests to campus must be treated as responsible for their behavior in the context of the student handbook’s regulations governing behavior and the repercussions for violating those regulations.

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