Trapped outside of the real world

By Richard Magda
October 4, 2001

Walking back to your creatively tagged abode, the New Residence Hall, after an extensive night of research, you are pulled to the side of the pathway by a Cabrini College Public Safety officer.

“What’s in the bag,” he forcefully mumbles in his most intimidating voice.

“Just a few binders and some candy cigarettes, sir,” you innocently respond with the utmost respect.

“That’s funny, you unlawful college student. I have no reason to believe that there are more than school books and candy smokes in your bag, but it looks suspicious to me,” he proclaims.

Shocked, you raise your hands in disbelief.

With a tumbling roar, the officer digs deep within his authority and shouts, “Empty your bag, now!”

Without thinking twice, you open the bag to show the officer he has nothing to worry about. After all, you were only studying.

But then, as you pull the zipper down until it can travel its hinges no longer, you see your demise showing its strikingly incandescent glow as your breath pushes out of your lungs with a powerful thrust of anxiety.

Now clearly visible to the Public Safety officer, the lone forgotten beer can in your bag from the last trunk-to-dorm transfer is about to cost you.

“Oh, damn!” you shout as you snap your fingers and shake your head in disbelief.

“Ha,” the officer confidently chuckles as if he actually knew that you were hosting a beer can in your bag all along. “It looks like we have some business to work out,” he says as he reaches for his citation book.

This story is purely fictional, right?

As of last week, when the most recent hall meetings were held in the New Residence Hall, this scenario, as ridiculous as it may seem, is entirely probable and, considering how Cabrini College Public Safety operates, it is highly probable as well.

Collaborating to form yet another social restriction for students, Public Safety and Residence Life have declared that they are now allowed to search bags both entering and leaving the New Residence Hall. The searches will be performed in the best interest of all students, in attempt to keep alcoholic beverages and contraband from entering the new dormitory. Inconsistently, the searches can only take place Thursday through Saturday, according to Resident Assistants at the hall meetings.

Granted, the New Residence Hall is a dry dormitory. Students living in the building should be prepared to suffer the consequences if they do not abide by the set of guidelines clearly outlined in the Student Handbook, which states that the use of alcohol and illegal drugs is prohibited.

It is assumed by the college that the obeying of these rules will be expected by Public Safety and respected by the students. After all, it is the duty of Public Safety to work towards the complete and unbroken safety of the public, hence the name.

However, we, as citizens and students of America, have the right to be secure with our possessions and to be free from unreasonable searches without probable cause, according to Amendment IV of the Bill of Rights.

By infringing on the Constitution, which our proud nation is based on, authority figures of Cabrini College, who are in no way affiliated with the police, are making up their own rules.

How do they justify defying the Constitution of the United States of America?

They don’t. They just continue to act ignorantly.

And considering that they are not the police, what gives them the professional opinion to decide what constitutes a “suspicious” bag?

Even the most keen-eyed police officer cannot search a bag unless he can clearly see visible evidence on which to base his probable cause.

Of course, Public Safety and Residence Life do a fine job keeping this fine institution running like a well-oiled machine. This argument does not condemn their hard work at all. But enough is enough all ready.

Compared to other schools, with much less public safety intervention, are we, the students of Cabrini College, really that horrible when it comes to unwinding after a long week hard at work?

I don’t think so.

I, along with many other students, have visited other colleges and universities on weekends and the Cabrini environment is incredibly calm. Students here have already been as tamed as college kids can get.

The recent decision by Public Safety, allowing bag searches, does not promote real world living for students. Nor does it promote the American way, which our nation is fighting hard to maintain right now.

This invasion of privacy is heinous, impracticable, and in my opinion, borderline Nazi.

With that understood, I ask you Public Safety, is it absolutely necessary to trap us even further into the corners of this already tightly assembled campus?

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Richard Magda

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