Letter to the Editor: Police protection at NU is illusory, unreasonable

Taylor Layton

In my year and a few months at Northwestern, I have never felt unsafe, due in part to effective police and the friendly and trusting nature of the student body. In particular, my dorm has been a safe space filled with respectful adults. However, I am starting to feel like this protection was an illusion.

In Spring Quarter of 2010, I was written up for outdoor urination. This is clearly problematic and illegal, and I had no problem with my punishment. I did have a problem when four police officers, including a shift supervisor, were distributed to my scene. Based on their behavior it was clear that they were attempting to issue an underage-drinking citation.

Around a week ago I had the last straw. I left my dorm, walked around, smoked a few cigarettes, enjoyed a conversation on Friedrich Nietzsche and ended up back outside of my dorm more than an hour and a half later. At this point I saw a police officer pulling up outside the entrance. Thinking nothing of it, I went inside. Almost beating me to my room, two officers were there accusing me of having smoked based on a supposed smell. Given, I may follow the only respectable presidents of my lifetime in occasioning cannabis, but there was nothing of that sort the entire day (I have no evidence for this except for the mature behavior of the police in turning away almost as soon as they came up).

Why then did two police officers come to my door? This is a question that only my community assistant can answer, but I can tell you their effect. I feel significantly less safe in my room, I don’t feel I can approach my CA with problems, and I generally have lost some of my previously-held respect for the Northwestern penal policy. If a similar occurrence happens in the future, I can see no other solution besides taking legal action against the school for allowing such gross abuses of power. I hope it doesn’t to come to that.

-Taylor Layton

Weinberg sophomore