This Labor Day weekend, metal barricades forced students likeCristal Jones, a junior early childhood education major, to take along-routed drive around the back of campus, take a makeshiftgravel road behind the Campus Safety building and then maneuverthrough the one-way lane in front the library every time she neededto leave campus.
Jones, an Oakland, Calif. native who resides in Module C, feltthe sudden hassle many students experienced, as campus securitystepped up its traffic monitoring after incidents of theft andtrespassing.
?Riding down the new pathway on that gravel,? Jones said, ? I?mjust worried it?s going to mess up my car and tires.?
New and regular Dillard police officers held heavy presence atthe main gate in front Rosenwald Hall over the holiday weekend,asking drivers and all passengers to show identification, even if aDillard decal was visible. Campus security?s check and searchmethod caused a traffic pileup on Gentilly Boulevard. The pileup ofcars and the university shuttle also blocked the Regional TransitAuthority bus at times from access to the bus stop located outsidethe main gate.
The entrance near Cook Hall, which has been barred off at variedtimes since the academic year began, remained closed the entireholiday. The Gentilly Garden Apartment gates were cordoned off withbarricades and yellow cones making the main gate the only entranceand exit for drivers.
The initial confusion saw many student drivers turning afterconfronting a barred Gentilly Gardens. Students also complained ofnear collisions when they were forced to drive down the one-waylane in front the campus library. It was not until later in theafternoon on Saturday, Sept. 4, that another officer was posted todirect traffic.
Jones said she understands the reasoning behindthe lock-down that would monitor Dillard students and guestsentering the campus. But she said that many of the officers arefamiliar with most Dillard students and she doesn?t see thenecessity in holding back traffic and asking to see Dillardidentification.
But campus safety officers are implementing directives fromChief Jacqueline Bumpas, the new director of Campus Safety, whosaid she is asking of her officers to challenge students in anattempt to better monitor who is being brought on the campus.
?The campus is very lax when it comes to safety,? Bumpas said,?and I know people don?t like change, but sometimes change is verygood.?
Bumpas, from Nashville, Tenn., is using her multi-tasking andcrime-prevention resume to toughen Dillard?s safety procedures. Theformer Tennessean city police officer worked as an investigator andalso a shift and incident commander at the Nashville InternationalAirport. Bumpas also worked as an officer at Tennessee StateUniversity and learned the dangers that lurked on collegecampuses.
Now going in to her third week on the job, Bumpas said thelock-down on campus over the Labor Day weekend was nothing unusual.She said that the checks also stemmed from a trespassing incidentthat occurred Friday night, Sept. 3, where New Orleans PoliceDepartment officers were called in to remove a young man who hadtrespassing warrants in his name.
Bumpas did not give a name or any further details about theincident, but said that university outsiders can pose even greaterthreats, such as carrying weapons, if proper monitoring at thegates did not exist. In an unrelated incident, one DUAL apartmentresident reported that her car was broken into that Friday night,while parked in the apartment?s gated lot.
Bumpas said that given the fact that it was a holiday weekend,and the campus traffic would be at a low, it was an opportunity forher to carry out the lock-down that would enable her to doassessments of weak spots on the campus. Bumpas pointed to thespate of campus thefts over the last academic year, including thestolen Bank One Automated Teller Machine.
?Many of the thefts have gone out of those gates,?she said.
In addition to the barricades, Bumpas said officers were alsopatrolling easy access areas such as the levy-wall behind theDUCIEF building, the chained-gate near the Duck Pond and theGentilly Gardens Apartment area.
?All I?m trying to do is look out for the good of theuniversity,? she said. ?My main thing is to keep Dillard out ofliability issues.?
Bumpas also said that the department was short on manpower andis conducting interviews to hire more officers.
Gentilly Gardens resident, senior Lindsay Mccormick, said thatshe didn?t see the logic in limiting access to only one gate andthat the numbers did not add up in the manpower shortageargument.
?No, because if you have a police officer doing checks andanother officer directing, and two more on patrol, that gives youtwo officers each for both gates,? said Mccormick, a physicaltherapy major from New Orleans.
Mccormick said the staff shortage has brought mixed signals onthe whether in fact a curfew exists. She said students are beingtold they have no curfew, but since Gentilly Garden residents havenot received access information for that gate, they are forced toenter via the main gate. She said that she tried to enter at 2 a.m.one morning, but no officer was on duty to open the gate,ultimately setting a curfew for students.
Students agree that the operation, in effect, was for their ownsafety but felt that more notice should have been given.
Senior Staci Worthman, the residential assistant for theGentilly Gardens, delivered letters to residents there, but saidthat for some of the residents ? mostly seniors ? blocking thegates seemed as a restriction to the freedom they believe they?veearned in the final year.
?The extra gate is why students moved into the Gardens, so thatwe do not feel like underclassmen or for lack of a better word,monitored,? Worthman, a Tucson, Ariz. Native, said.
?You?re supposed to have all the privileges,? she said, ?but Ithink they?re going to have to make the rules and privileges moreclear.?
Joshua Thomas, a junior business management and music major, whois also a residential assistant for Module B, said checkingidentification was causing excess traffic.
?What?s the purpose of having decals if you have to check Ids,?Thomas said. ?That?s why we bought them. To identify which carsshould be on campus and which ones should not??
Thomas? concern, as a residential assistant, stems from the factthat some of the doors in the Modules are unable to lock. With allthe barricades and attention being paid to the gates, monitoringaccess onto the entire campus still remains improbable given publicopenings at Gentilly Gardens area and at the Duck Pond.