Hello Safety, Goodbye Security: An Unexpected Budget Cut

Like any first-year reluctant to abandon the air-conditioned luxury of their home, Campus Safety — formerly known as Safety and Security — has certainly been dragging its feet on its move to Dascomb Hall. While no one quite knows when they will move into Fourth Meal’s decrepit shell, even less is known about its sudden rebranding. Why the switch from Safety and Security to merely Campus Safety? Is it because now, in the midst of a budget crisis, “security” is the latest tenant to be sacrificed at the deficit’s jeweled altar? And what acronym can we possibly revere now, with the snappy “S-’n’-S” struck down alongside it?

Students living in South Hall have been some of the first to feel the effects of this possible cut. As reported by the Review in its Sept. 14 issue, the College became aware of a missing master key at the end of last spring (The Oberlin Review, “ResEd Misplaces South Hall Master Key,” Sept. 14, 2018). The loss of the key lines up with the timeline of changes within the office, leading to the crucial question: Which came first? Was it the loss of the key that prompted the removal of security? Or was the key haphazardly tossed into a writhing Splitchers crowd as part of an effort to rebrand?

Director of Campus Safety Mike Martinsen would dispute both of these worthy and academic speculations.

“In preparation for our large incoming [first-year] class, we transitioned from the quintessential Campus Safety and Security to the Office of Campus Safety to better align with best practices across the country,” he wrote in an email to the Review. “The distinction between these two titles may initially seem trivial, but … I believe there is a distinction in the implication of our department’s renaming. … Our primary intent in changing and simplifying our name was to reflect the new direction of our department, which is to pursue a broader campus community outreach — where we work closely with our community partners [and] provide our students, faculty, and staff with the training to achieve and maintain the safest possible campus environment.”

Sure, this makes sense. But aren’t two words better than one? What can one word say that two words, following in rapid, drunken succession, can’t?

Students can feel secure in the fact that there will be no clear successor for their beloved and time-worn acronym. Martinsen expressed his hope that, not unlike the current status of the missing key, there is no replacement.

“I have always personally felt a bit uncomfortable when hearing individuals refer to our department casually, as [‘S&S’],” he wrote. “I realize the shortened term is used innocently and done so to avoid the use of the long and somewhat cumbersome name Campus Safety and Security.”

In the meantime, I will be shouting “CS! CS!” at the fleet of white vehicles patrolling campus and hoping it catches on. If the department of Computer Science comes to my aid instead, we will know it hasn’t.