Are Hamline students too comfortable?

Is leaving our stuff unattended on campus really a good idea?

Emily Brown, Reporter

I like to think of Hamline as my second home. All of my friends are here, I get hot meals daily and students leave their stuff all over campus unattended. But is that safe? Is Hamline really this romanticized safe haven where we can all leave our laptops and backpacks in the forum while we go get Starbucks and return to our stuff safely awaiting us? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Sure, your backpack might be safe when you return, but someone can easily grab your backpack and laptop and run while you’re grabbing your coffee.

Let’s face it, Hamline is not the safe haven we all want it to be. I lost my phone on campus once, and thankfully, someone turned it into Hamline Public Safety (HPS). But I often wonder what would’ve happened if it had gotten into the wrong hands. Even though I’d like to think that no one at Hamline would be inclined to steal my stuff, I don’t feel safe enough to leave my stuff unattended.

We think of Hamline as our home away from home, and while that is valid, we must realize that it has various places accessible to the public during business hours. What isn’t behind locked doors isn’t guaranteed safe from theft. I’ve already heard about two recent incidents of stolen items on campus: a phone and a wallet. And these are only the stories I’ve heard; most likely, plenty of other stuff has been stolen in the first half of the semester.

Not only are our items vulnerable, so are our private spaces. According to an email from the Director of Public Safety, Melinda Heikkinen, an unidentified individual who self-identified as not female was showering in the first floor women’s bathroom/shower in Manor Hall on the night of Monday Oct. 29. According to the email, after speaking with Resident Assistants the individual “indicated that they knew a student in the building and left Manor Hall.” Based on camera footage reviewed by HPS, the individual “piggy backed into Manor Hall.” This incident highlights how accessible it is to get into the nooks and crannies of campus – not only for Hamline students, but for the general public. Hamline is embedded in a larger community, surrounded by plenty of businesses and homes. Someone can easily come onto campus and get into many or all of the buildings during business hours. Although this has many benefits, it has a handful of drawbacks.

On a poll I took in the Hamline Class of 2022 Facebook group, 46 people answered they do sleep with their door unlocked, whereas 22 people do not, and three have slept with their doors left open. When asked if they have left their items unsupervised on campus, 58 people have and 24 have not.

It’s clear to me that Hamline students either feel safe on campus or they want to feel safe on campus. Many of us live on campus and we want to make campus our home to combat homesickness and loneliness. And that is a great idea. It improves both our physical and mental health, but we must do it safely.

Such as what happened in Manor Hall, even locked spaces on campus can be accessed by the public and the campus. Sure, we’re a small campus and not as popular as Dinkytown, but we are easily accessible. We go to a school of over 2,000 students. It’s impossible to know all of them and their intentions.

Because of these facts, I think it’s best if Hamline students look after our stuff and ourselves. Keep your backpack with you at all times unless it’s being watched by a friend, regardless of how much time you think you’ll be gone. Five minutes to get Starbucks can easily turn into 20 minutes of talking to a friend you bump into, which is more than enough time for someone to quickly grab a backpack and run. A good rule of thumb is to be arm’s-length of away of your items at all times unless behind locked doors.

Hamline is our home. So, let’s make it feel that way and protect each other and ourselves.