A previous article published in The Lamron reported Geneseo received a score of zero out of 100 when evaluated on transparency by the Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government. The lack of institutional transparency has permeated all facets of Geneseo life but has particularly affected student safety.
Geneseo is responsible for the lives of students when they are on campus. While it would be great to have administration communicate more openly on all matters, it is first and foremost critical that the college drastically changes how it approaches potentially life-threatening situations.
A number of incidents have occurred this year alone that put students in jeopardy. Many will remember the email sent to students about an unknown man who wandered into the Alpha Kappa Phi sorority house in February.
“On Sunday Feb. 17, 2019 at approximately 3 a.m., the Village of Geneseo police responded to a report of an unknown male who entered the Alpha Kappa Phi sorority residence located at 26 Wadsworth Street in the Village of Geneseo,” the email sent campus-wide said. “The suspect is described as a white male, in his 40’s, with a muscular build, short salt and pepper colored hair, possible facial hair, and wearing a grey sweatshirt. The investigation is this incident is continuing.”
This email, however, failed to mention anything else, like the speculation that this man was following female students home. This email’s contents were all the students heard about, unless they obtained information from other students who were more closely related to the incident.
Luckily, this man has reportedly done no physical harm to any of the sorority members but because no information was given, everyone was potentially at risk.
How are students supposed to stay secure and protect themselves if they don’t know what to protect themselves from?
More recently, just last Friday, lab students got an email from lecturer of chemistry Barnabas Gikonyo about a chemical spill. The third floor was cleared, and labs were cancelled for the day. Only lab students got this email, however.
Another issue was that the third floor was poorly blocked off. There was minimal signage on the stairs and easy access to the floor by the elevators. So, if only lab students knew about the spill and it was poorly marked, how were uninformed students, who could potentially need to visit a professor, supposed to stay safe?
There was little to no information to begin with, which seems to be a common trend in Geneseo. When reports of anything come from the college, the particulars are paltry, and most students actually learn what happened through other students.
Geneseo could notify its students about events in more detail, providing enough information to ensure understanding of said events, and to prevent incorrect information from spreading.
It’s not just about transparency anymore—it’s about safety. Geneseo has the responsibility to not only educate students, but to keep them safe when they’re involved with college activities. If they can’t do that, they may risk lawsuits and scandals, but most importantly, the lives that have been thus entrusted to them.