Wellesley College is generally thought to be a safe place. Located in an affluent suburb, we are removed from the Boston college town experience. Establishments in Wellesley close fairly early compared to their Boston counterparts’ making students travel on the Peter Pan bus to seek nightlife options. Wellesley also has its esteemed Honor Code, which is printed and placed around campus. We uphold its values—to not steal, cheat or commit infractions against our peers. Wellesley fosters an environment where students can leave their laptops while studying and return to them hours later. While we are fortunate to live in such a safe and trusting atmosphere, we are not always cognizant of the safety risks that we face. Wellesley lacks basic safety measures that it should have as an open campus. The College owes it to students to maintain basic protocols, regardless of how safe we currently feel.
Wellesley students often forget that it is an open campus, meaning that anyone is allowed on campus grounds, even if they are not affiliated with the school. It’s as easy as walking down Central Street or riding the Peter Pan bus to arrive at Wellesley College. While residence halls and academic buildings late at night require Wellesley ID swipe access, the campus grounds are open to all. This is a contrast to campuses like Harvard, where after a certain time, a guard at a checkpoint gives only students and accompanied visitors access to Harvard Yard. At MIT, visitors are not allowed to enter residence halls without first presenting ID and having their accompanying student present. At Wellesley, anyone can walk around campus at any time of the day. This has several safety implications, which all stem from the possibility of having dangerous people on campus. In May of last year, a man who was a Level 1 sex offender was arrested by Wellesley College Police for repeatedly looking through the windows of several residence halls on campus. He had previously been charged with lewd and lascivious conduct relating to an incident that occurred in Somerville in the summer of 2016. In addition, students who have stalkers risk having their stalker enter the campus and gain access to buildings by simply walking in behind a Wellesley student. These safety risks should lead Wellesley to increase its current safety measures while also adding new ones. Students should be able to be safe on campus, especially at night, and feel secure in their rooms.
Unlike other campuses, Wellesley does not require visitors to sign in, either in residence halls or academic buildings. Most other campuses require all visitors to be logged and state who their accompanying student is. This helps keep track of how many visitors are on campus, and if any incidents happen, make it easy to find who was responsible or in the building. Two weeks ago, there was an incident in McAfee where a visitor went into a bedroom that did not belong to his accompanying student, and then went through that student’s personal belongings. To help prevent such incidents, Wellesley should have a basic security sign in in residence halls that documents all visitors and does not allow visitors that are unaccompanied and not unwelcome.
The Wellesley shuttle runs from 6 p.m. to midnight, making stops between east and west campus. This is our only method of transportation, besides walking, to reach either side of campus, which can take up to half hour. Students frequently complain that the shuttle is often late and sometimes doesn’t show up to predetermined pick-up locations, leaving students to either call campus police for a ride or complete the walk to their destination alone. Students shouldn’t have to rely on campus police to shuttle them around campus, and Wellesley should increase the frequency and reliability with which the shuttles run so that students feel more comfortable traveling across campus at night.
Transportation safety should also be increased off campus. The Peter Pan bus has forced students to be removed from the bus, which poses a safety risk, as many students do not have the means to transport themselves back to campus without the bus. This should not happen. Students should be able to rely on the Peter Pan bus to safely bring them back to campus.
Wellesley students deserve basic safety on-and-off-campus, as there are real threats that we face. The administration needs a comprehensive plan that brings Wellesley’s security up to par with other institutions. If Wellesley wants to remain an open campus, then it needs to increase current safety measures and ensure that students are not in unsafe situations when traveling across or off-campus. Recognizing the risks we are at here at Wellesley is the first step to effectively remedying them