More Taint on the Ivory Tower

BY MARTIN KICH

What follows is a petition posted to Change-org by Seth Alterman, asking for public support for a petition protesting the elimination of the campus police force at Dean College, which is located outside of Boston. The officers had just chosen to unionize when the college suddenly announced that it was outsourcing campus security services.

This situation may seem a small thing to focus on this blog. It involves fewer than a dozen and a half employees at a small college. But this situation is indicative of the relentless privatization and corporatization of our institutions, and whenever we ignore any situation of this kind, we are acquiescing incrementally to a trend that will ultimately—and very likely sooner rather than later—overwhelm us all.

It is extremely ironic that even as administrative bloat is reaching obscene dimensions, more and more lower-paying service jobs within our institutions are being outsourced—maintenance and custodial services, dining services, book store operations, and increasingly security services

Although the people now providing the services within many of our institutions are earning considerably less than they did when they were our institutions’ direct employees, our institutions are not really saving any money whatsoever through the outsourcing. The lost wages are simply going into the pockets of the upper management and the stockholders of the firms now providing the services.

So, beyond the obvious irony that high-paying administrative jobs are almost never eliminated, never mind eliminated as cavalierly as lower-paying service positions, our institutions simply have ever-larger numbers of administrators who are directly supervising fewer and fewer service employees. It is a paradox, but, when you strip away all of the self-justifying niceties, is actually little more than a heartless racket.

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At a time when “active shooter drills” are common practice at campuses across the country, Dean College, outside Boston, has chosen to get rid of its police force altogether, leaving its students to feel more vulnerable than ever.

It seems like a very strange move, until you dig just a little bit into it one workday before they were fired, Dean’s 18-person Public Safety Department informed the college of their intent to unionize. And just like that, the college announced plans to replace them with a private security firm.

This is management abuse, and it puts the students’ safety at risk. Not to mention that these officers, some of whom had worked for Dean for 15 years, were dropped heartlessly, without even the kindness of a clear explanation, one week before Christmas. As a proud alum of Dean College, I find this deeply troubling.

Please join me in calling on the Dean College president and Board of Trustees to rehire these Public Safety officers and allow them to unionize. Now, in the wake of gruesome attacks and school threats, is not the time to mess with students’ safety.

Most of the Public Safety Department officers were active and retired police officers and firefighters, with extensive training. The private security firm, on the other hand, wouldn’t have the authority to make arrests, or the training to respond to an active shooter situation. They would rely on the town’s police department, draining taxpayers’ money, and officers’ time and resources, not to mention wasting valuable, potentially lifesaving minutes in the case of a real emergency.

The students of Dean have always trusted our campus police.

They treated us like adults. We knew we could count on them to be here for us and guide us, sit with us after we drank too much, and help us in our darkest hours. The students of Dean College need them now more than ever the announcement to terminate them came on the heels of two reports of sexual assault on campus. We need real, trusted professionals dealing with this crisis, not some newbie hired hands.

Lawyers are working to determine if the college illegally interfered with the organization of a union. A decision is expected soon, and the issue could go to federal court. But, given the outpouring of support for these officers and the student protest and upset over their termination, the college should choose to do the right thing now and rehire them. They are trustworthy, they have become our friends, and Dean students need them now more than ever.

Please call on Dean College President Dr. Paula Rooney and the Board of Trustees to rehire the officers of Dean’s Public Safety Department immediately:

 

 

 

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