By Kerri Provost
March 11, 2012
About forty students and a few staff allies at Trinity have drafted an open letter dealing with safety issues on campus. They have said that a number of students have been critical of the recent rally
Dear Trinity Community,
We write to you as fellow Trinity students. We come as individuals who are deeply
saddened in regards to last weekend’s assault against our classmate Chris Kenny. We
hope for his speedy recovery and will continue to keep him and his family in our prayers.
We have come to understand that some students feel the answer to stop crime is to isolate
the Trinity Community from the Hartford Community. This letter is not a response to
the unfortunate events of last weekend, but rather, it is a response to the ever-present
discourse of erecting a gate. We understand the emotional impulse to create a barrier
but this is not a sustainable or sensitive solution. For the following reasons, we urge the
campus to consider other means of increasing safety and security for ALL students:
It goes without saying that safety is important to everyone. However, we must consider
that safety does not mean the same thing for everyone. There are Trinity students
from Hartford. A gate threatens to not only estrange them from the community they
call home but also causes conflict within Trinity. If we continue to perceive all Hartford
residents as “the other” we alienate fellow Trinity students whose family and life-
long friends may be considered “Hartford locals” as well. In addition, we regard the
term “Hartford Local” to be a racially charged epithet. The phrase often conjures the
image of a Black or Latino, marginalized, working class individual. Many of our Black
and Latino classmates have cited incidents of Campus Safety being called on them or
being denied entrance to College facilities. How might our understanding of “the other”
further alienate students of color on campus?
A gate would only give us the illusion of safety. Trinity cannot and should never
become a fortress. While the idea of closing the campus to non-students during certain
times of day seems like it may discourage crime, we must acknowledge that most crime
on campus takes place between students. Therefore whatever security measures we
demand must address crime in ALL its forms at Trinity. The building of a gate suggests
that the criminal exists solely outside of our walls, which is false on many levels. On
average, there are 5 reported sexual assaults each semester between students.
Adding a gate would undermine community service projects. Trinity College prides
itself, and rightly so, on community service endeavors. We have many initiatives,
including Do it Day, mentoring and tutoring projects, and Trinfo Cafe. Moreover, we
have community-learning components in courses like Analyzing Schools and Hispanic
Hartford that encourage students to find meaningful ways to connect their Trinity studies
to the Hartford community. If Trinity were to install a gate, we send the message that
our relationship with Hartford is selective and conditional. It suggests that Trinity feels
comfortable enough to allow Hartford residents to participate in community service
programs, but does not trust them enough to simply walk through campus. We must be
Trinity Students are more likely to live and work in urban environments than
any other place after graduation. Living in an urban city gives Trinity students an
advantage by setting up a structured environment in which to practice for the “Real
world”. By having this unique experience of living in a city, students have the
opportunity to learn these skills while being supported by campus amenities like the
Campus Shuttle. It would be favorable to see an increase of campus safety measures. We
also recommend a series of urban-living workshops to help. Trinity, as an institution,
can help support students by providing spaces to educate us about ways to better prepare
ourselves for Trinity and beyond.
A gate would cement this notion that Trinity and Hartford are separate and distinct realms. The current dialogue around closing off the Trinity College campus has been
focused on a dichotomy of the Hartford Community versus Trinity College students. We
are more than just a community of students. The Hartford Community exists within and
throughout the Trinity campus. Professors, Chartwell chefs, landscapers, security guards,
day care kids, coaches, and President Jones all call Hartford home. The Cinestudio,
Austin Arts Center, Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy, and Sambafest are all
institutions that constitute the community of Hartford. In other words, matriculating into
the Trinity Community inherently means matriculation into the Hartford Community.
While we are students here, we are all locals. There is no line to be drawn. Trinity IS
Hartford. And as such, we encourage the Trinity Community to find more sustainable
ways to better influence the safety of Trinity and Hartford.
The students who drafted this letter are hoping that the public recognizes that not all Trinity students support the policy of gating the campus.
|Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.