Editorial: There’s more to safety than parking tickets

Ask any upperclassman what he/she thinks of the Department of Public Safety and you’ll likely get a two-word response: parking tickets.

Sadly, this is not the bad punch line of an even worse joke. Public Safety officers, while charged with promoting the well-being of the University population, instead spend a great deal of time checking hangtags and slipping tickets underneath windshield wipers.

These men and women are often lumped into the same category as rent-a-cops or mall security officials, but this criticism is underserved — these officers indeed do what they can to maintain a sense of safety on campus. Where the problem seems to exist is in the staffing decisions made at the headquarters of the department.

It doesn’t seem that there are enough officers to maintain order at the University. Shortages in the department are resulting in officers being spread thin to cover all of the trouble areas, such as Stanford Hall and the Quad. This is a very dangerous practice, especially if something serious does happen.

While there are generally enough officers in these high-traffic buildings at night, staffing them adequately destroys the department’s ability to patrol the campus, which becomes important as the sky gets darker. This means that students who would otherwise be protected by officers biking, walking and driving around the campus are instead exposed to potential harm, especially at the always-popular West campus apartments, which do not have emergency call boxes in case of problems.

Having more officers around late at night would do more than just protect students from dangerous situations, however. This practice would also cut down on vandalism on campus, evident in situations such as damage to resident rooms, the paint near the stairs of the SEPTA shuttle overpass on South campus and even the “chalk monster” of last spring, whose messages cost the University a great deal of money to power wash off of buildings and other structures on campus. Clearly, if more officers had been patrolling the campus, this would not have been a problem.

Villanova is lucky so far in that major crimes have not been committed against students on campus in quite some time. But it’s not likely this protective bubble will last forever, and when something does happen, the campus will need the immediate response of these men and women who, we hope, will not be craning their necks to check a hangtag. After all, these officers work for an office called Public Safety, not Parking Service. It’s time for the department heads to live up to that name by hiring more officers to keep us safe.