The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Patterson Hall problem

SMU Police need to stop badgering students on campus

It’s been a few days since the Student Senate sponsored a meeting on drugs and alcohol on campus, and there is one part of the forum that has stuck with us all week. The comments regarding the actions of the SMU Police Department should be a concern for the department and the entire campus community.

First things first: The Student Senate and the Drug Task Force need to be commended for putting this together and letting the campus community have this opportunity.

We have been very critical of both groups in the past year, and justifiably so, but we’re not afraid to praise them when they do something right. Thanks to both groups for hosting the event.

But the tales from audience members about police harassment – words none of them used but we will – are incredibly disturbing.

One young student explained how she and her roommate went to Target on a Saturday night to pick up some groceries and other items. The two of them were walking back to their room in one of the residence halls when SMU PD stopped them and asked them what they were up to and what was in their bags. These weren’t brown paper bags, but the white plastic ones with the Target bull’s-eye on them. And the students weren’t released until the police made sure they weren’t drunk and didn’t have substances on them.

The student said she felt like she was guilty until proven innocent.

Another student explained how SMU PD stopped her on her way back from the library and made her submit to a sobriety field test.

This is not what good policing is. In fact, this is how campus police get a bad name.

SMU PD Chief Rick Shafer said at the forum that neither he nor anyone else has directed the department to increase enforcement or ticket writing for alcohol violations.

We want to believe him, but the numbers of students cited for violations already and stories of students being shaken down for no reason makes us doubt him.

And that’s not what SMU PD needs right now.

It is undisputed that the number of alcohol violations were triple in the first weeks of the semester compared to last year. And we don’t buy the line that two football home games are the reason violations were up. That sounds like an excuse after the fact.

We need to be able to trust the police because they can do a lot of good if they work in partnership with the campus community.

Right now the student body views SMU PD as an adversary.

And we can’t blame them if policemen are harassing sober students who go grocery shopping instead of barhopping on Saturday night.

More to Discover