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In response to the recommendation of the Undergraduate Council, the Freshman Dean's Office said yesterday that it would introduce a security "fair" later in the spring for firstyear students and a mandatory security programming next fall for the incoming first-year class.
In an e-mail message yesterday, Dean of Freshman Elizabeth S. Nathans said that the FDO "will implement enhanced personal, facility and group security awareness programming" for first-year students this spring.
First-year students this year will be able to stop by the Rotunda of the Freshman Union sometime this spring to learn about security in a setup similar to last fall's Concentration Fair, Nathans said.
Although the "precise format" of the fall programming is up in the air, Nathans said that Orientation Week's proctor meetings "can and will" include discussions about security. The FDO aims to have other small group meetings later in the year to reinforce the lessons of the first meetings.
First-years already receive a pamphlet on security entitled "Playing It Safe" and a lecture about security given by their proctors during the initial proctor meetings.
Police Chief Paul E. Johnson and council members agree that security programming of some kind could be very effective in preventing crime in the Yard.
Johnson said that security education would especially benefit students who come from more sheltered environments where security is not so much a concern. "[They think] they're in a utopia....You can't be totally oblivious to your surroundings."
"It's better to have them notified about [security], especially those who have never lived in a city," council representative Joseph S. Evangelista '96 said.
Other schools already have similar programs. Yale has its own police officers educate first-year students during their orientation period, the Yale public affairs office said.
Nathan's tentative initiatives are in response to an Undergraduate Council proposal overwhelmingly passed last December, providing for security education for first-years in which Harvard University police officers would teach students about security measures.
The proposal, sponsored by council representatives Elizabeth A. Haynes '98 and N. Van Taylor '96-'95, calls for three mandatory meetings for first-years: one during Orientation Week and two follow-ups later in the fall.
Under the original proposal, a police officer would educate students of each proctor group about security measures on campus and in the city as part of the initial proctor meetings during Orientation Week. In the two subsequent meetings, police officers would follow up on students' concerns and reinforce the lessons.
Nathans said she did not know if police officers would teach the meetings because the FDO, Harvard University Police Department and the Freshman Caucus of the Undergraduate Council were still "discuss[ing] alternatives."
But some council members say they are distressed over a perceived lack of sensitivity to their concerns. Council members say that the FDO has previously waffled on the issue of having these security meetings, and that they are not sure the initiatives will happen.
The council's proposal was passed overwhelmingly in December. On December 20, Taylor sent a letter to the FDO outlining the council's proposal.
At the time, the council received an initially warm response. Haynes said that in the several subsequent conversations she had with Nathans the dean was very "supportive" of the proposal.
In fact, Haynes said she was under the impression that the only things in questions were the proposal's details. The HUPD, she said, was also supportive of the measure-- "100 percent" so.
"I thought it was simply a question of scheduling, of getting this to happen, getting three meetings scheduled," Haynes said. "[Nathans] was just as concerned for student security as we were."
But in a public meeting of the Committee on College Life on January 10, Associate Dean of Freshman W. Burriss Young '55 seemed to reverse the FDO's position.
"There was notable resistance from Dean Young for a variety of reasons," said then-council-president David L. Hanselman '94-'95, who attended the meeting. "The reasons he intimated were [that] there were already some mandatory proctor meetings during Freshman Week, and [that] given the hot weather during late August, it would be uncomfortable to the students to add another mandatory meetings."
Council members said that although they have encouraged Nathans to do what the FDO and HUPD think is best in making use of their proposal, they did not expect last January's resistance to implementing any plan at all. Furthermore, students says that they are distressed by the mixed signals they are receiving from the FDO.
"I think it's unfortunate that the Freshman Dean's Office is not placing a higher value on security," Taylor said. "It seems to me the FDO is holding back HUPD's efforts for freshman security classes."
"The proposal put forth by Van and Liz seemed to be a commonsense way to get first years conscious of security issues, and the administrative resistance we get to this proposal is very disturbing," Hanselman said.
Young could not be reached for comment yesterday.
When asked about the proposal last week, Young said he had never seen such a proposal. But Taylor and council vice-president Justin C. Label '97, who also attended the meeting, both confirmed Hanselman's description of the events: that Young not only knew about the proposal, but also criticized it.
According to Taylor, Young said that the proposal was "not the best way to give this information, and [the FDO is] trying to find a different way to present this."
But council members say that they didn't understand the reluctance in implementing what they agree is an effective and inexpensive way to prevent crime.
"Crime is a serious problem at Harvard," Taylor said. "[Having security programming] would save the University a lot of liability, a lot of headache. Prevention is the best cure and there's no cure better than security classes."
"Security of Harvard first-years seems to be much more important than a half-hour of discomfort on a midsummer night," Hanselman said.
But in a reversal from Young's statements, Nathans said yesterday that the security discussions--even those during Orientation Week proctor meetings--would definitely happen.
"We can and will add security issues discussions to the initial proctor meetings," she said, "but that alone would, I think, constitute a minimal and in the end marginally effective response."
Nathans expounded on Young's comments, saying that student exhaustion and information overload during the initial proctor meetings would mean that students would "remember relatively little of what happens at those meetings."
In another e-mail message last night, Nathans said that they have no yet reached any decision about having officers attend the proctor meetings.
"Almost certainly, HUPD cannot provide 62 officers to attend 62 proctor meetings, so it is unlikely that officers will be present at each of the initial entry meetings," she said.
But Haynes said that Sgt. Larry Fennelly had assured her earlier that providing officers for the proctor meetings would not be a problem--the officers would simply move between meetings, of which their lessons would only be a part.
In addition, even though Nathans said that at the very least the security classes during proctor meetings would be implemented, Johnson said he has not heard anything about the classes.
In fact, Johnson said he was working under the impression that he would have only one Saturday during Orientation Week--not time during proctor meetings--to have a nonmandatory assembly on security measures.
"I would like it to be mandatory," Johnson said on Monday.
"We're going to have to come up with a dynamite presentation to reach the kids, but we'll take what we can get," he said.
Council members say that students probably wouldn't come to an optional student seminar. Furthermore, those who did come wouldn't be as receptive, they said.
"[The classes are] necessary as opposed to the large assembly where people would just doze off," Evangelista said. "[Under the proposal] the police officer would talk to the students directly."
Johnson said the HUPD wanted to have the meeting at least on a weekday, when students "are focused," but that has not been arranged either.
"[Orientation Week] is a very tough time frame on the their schedule," Johnson said.
Still, Nathans said that the Orientation Week schedule is still open. "No decisions have yet been made about programming for Fall 1995, nor is the orientation schedule yet scheduled," she said.
But with the security classes proposed to be concurrent with proctor meetings, Haynes said she did not think there would be a problem with scheduling.
And Johnson said he would accomodate any the FDO offers him. "We do [security classes] for anyone who will invite us," he said.
Within the next two weeks, Haynes said she will meet with Nathans to discuss the different options for having security classes.
"I will discuss [the security classes] with her to set up a time table and see where things are going and what's happened with [them]," Haynes said.
Nathans cautioned against overly optimismtic expectations about security classes.
"In the end, though, no amount of programming can substitute for students' own regard for their peers and for common sense," Nathans said.
But the wrangling in the FDO has made Hanselman and other council members skeptical on a more fundamental level. They have doubts about whether any part of their original proposal--to have at least three small group classes with police officers--will make it through the FDO.
"Sometimes what the students want isn't necessarily what the administration wants," Hanselman said.
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