Insecure about campus security

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By Jasmine Maharisi, Editor-in-Chief

“Killing at Millard South.” “UNL Warns Students of Possible Gunman.” “Another Report of Possible Gunman at UNL.”

School shootings. It’s a sociological quagmire, a phenomenon that sends terrifying images through my mind: jumping out of windows, huddling under desks, pretending to be dead. Maybe you need to come from my generation to comprehend how truly terrifying school shootings are.

But I would like to believe that in the wake of such threatening times, my own campus would tighten security measures. Sadly, this hasn’t been the case.

I’ve had two run-ins with Campus Security this semester, outside of obtaining the weekly Crime Log for the Gateway. The first incident irritated me. The second one downright pissed me off.

The first incident happened in March. I wasn’t aware that the homeless were allowed in the Milo Bail Student Center. I have nothing against them, other than the fact that some have mental disabilities that can be quite obvious and scary.

One of my employees at the paper had his family here because they had just eaten at a pancake feed fundraiser and were waiting for him to finish his work. They were waiting in one of the lounge areas in MBSC when a homeless person started talking to my employee’s 9-year-old daughter. The man talked about a TV show that wasn’t appropriate for the girl, and my employee’s wife became uncomfortable and ushered her daughter into our office.

I called Campus Security and reported a strange man who seemed out of place on campus. I guess this was a mistake.

Not only was nothing done, but the security officer lectured me about how that “strange” man had a right to be there because UNO is a public space. He also said I shouldn’t call security just because a person “doesn’t seem like they belong there.”

Wow. I guess in the era of school shootings, inappropriate behavior is not something to be suspicious of.

The next incident came just last week. My godmother was attending my honors presentation one evening and, as we all know, parking is terrible on campus. She followed a girl walking out of a building to her car and waited for her parking space. As soon as my godmother pulled into the now-vacant space, a woman banged on her window, yelling and threatening to slash her tires. Apparently, the woman believed she was there first and my godmother had stolen her parking space.

My godmother, who is actually quite obsessive-compulsive about following laws, was floored. As a graduate of UNO, she knew how bad parking could be, but this was the worst parking rage she’d seen. She stayed inside her car and called Campus Security.

The officer who responded proceeded to tell her that she didn’t know whether that woman was waiting for the parking space and my godmother could very well have stolen it. The officer also dismissed the fact that the woman was belligerently threatening to slash my godmother’s tires.

Later, when my godmother asked for a copy of the incident report so she could file an incident with Omaha police, the security guard said he wasn’t authorized to give that information to her and she needed to call his manager, Paul Kozel, on Monday. Throughout the exchange, the guard, whose last name is Hancock, was acting as if my godmother was some psycho he was forced to deal with. I was livid.

Given that we publish the Crime Log every week, I expected to see the incident listed. Nothing was mentioned.

My godmother called Kozel on Monday and asked for a copy of the incident report. She also asked why the incident wasn’t published in the Crime Log for public record. Campus Security evaluates each incident, Kozel told her, and decides whether to put it in the Crime Log.

Apparently Campus Security picks and chooses what to put in the Crime Log, the sole purpose of which is to keep the pulse of campus crime. If they can’t handle incidents such as suspicious behavior and physical threats properly, what would they do if something really big happened, like an act of terrorism or a shooting?

In a time of school shootings, one would hope Campus Security would be doing everything in their power to keep us safe. It seems that’s the last thing on their minds.

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