Letter Regarding Campus Safety

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff: 

You may be aware that we have recently experienced some troubling incidents on campus, including several reports of assault, unwelcome encounters in outdoor spaces, reports of theft of personal belongings primarily from unlocked residence hall rooms, theft of bicycles, and unauthorized entry to some buildings. We have a fundamental duty to protect the safety and well-being of our students, as well as our faculty and staff. Thus, we take very seriously any incident in which members of our community are harmed, threatened with harm, or made to feel unsafe. 

I write today to let you know about the steps we are taking to address these matters.

Staff in Campus Safety and Student Affairs are reviewing all incident reports that have come in over the past two months to understand the circumstances of each. For incidents among our students involving violations of the Code of Student Conduct or Title IX, we have clear policies and prompt and equitable procedures for the resolution of the issues involved. With regard to the recent incidents involving theft, damage to property, or other potentially criminal acts, we are working closely with local authorities to investigate each incident fully while also analyzing trends. It should be noted that many of the thefts involve individuals not affiliated with Bates. Understanding the specific circumstances of the recent incidents is essential to developing effective preventive measures.

We have also engaged a safety consultant focused on college and university settings to help us understand the national landscape and evolving safety solutions while taking account of the distinctive challenges presented on a college campus, where the interests of community, safety, and privacy intersect in complex ways. The consultant is helping us to assess our areas of greatest risk on campus, to identify gaps in our current capacity to mitigate these risks, and to explore the most appropriate tools and approaches to address the challenges we currently face.

We will consult with campus partners as we evaluate the pros and cons of different proposals for enhancing campus safety. Our goal is to deploy strategies that are effective and consistent with maintaining the welcoming campus environment that Bates is known for: a campus where students and employees move freely in the daily course of their lives and work, and where guests and members of the public are invited to enjoy our grounds and attend lectures, performances, athletic contests, and other events. 

Enhancing safety within any community requires a multilayered approach and the engagement of everyone. To that end, there are steps we all can take to keep our community safe. These include maintaining situational awareness, not allowing others to follow behind when entering a building, locking office doors and dorm rooms when we are not present, and securing personal possessions.

For support at any time, students, faculty, and staff can call Campus Safety at 207-786-6254. Officers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer the phone, coordinate emergency response, and connect people to the right resources. Campus Safety offers safe rides or escorts for students in any situation where they feel unsafe, and they can connect students 24/7 to Residence Life Coordinators for housing and personal needs. Additionally, the college offers blue light boxes across campus that students can press in an emergency. Or they can call the Campus Safety Emergency line at 207-786-6111.

Thank you for your attention and your help. I am sorry that we face these issues in an otherwise joyous return to the in-person experience, and I am confident that with everyone working together, we will swiftly get to a better place.

All my best,