By Tom Casey
The Pipe Dream police blotter reads like an obituary. It’s the place where students’ rights go to die. “Campus police responded to noise complaint in Rafuse. 19-year-old female opened her dorm and presented the police with three bottles of alcohol.” “Twenty-year-old man suspected of smoking illicit substance hands over marijuana, fake ID and plagiarized term-paper to officers.” Only a matter of time until we read about a “21 year-old-female suspected of jaywalking takes officer’s handcuffs, applies them to her wrists and drives herself to the downtown station, where she awaits a likely guilty verdict from herself.”
The police’s main duty is the protect the rights of the people. The campus police at Binghamton University do a fantastic job. Our campus feels safe. For the true emergencies I’ve heard of, campus police were swift and effective. Students should have confidence in the emergency responders on the campus. Campus police has been holding up its duty. The true failure lies within the students. The student population continues to unnecessarily forgo their rights. Here, I make a declaration, odd for a conservative/libertarian publication. Let’s do the police’s jobs for them. Let’s learn how to protect the rights of the people! (psst, that’s us)
Don’t be a dingus.
The best way to not lose your rights is to not enter an overtly criminal situation in the first place. Basically, avoid doing silly stuff in your dorm. Whether it’s smoking one cigarette or determining the temperature at which mattresses burn, stray away from fire. Maximum occupancy limits are official rules, not Guiness World Records. Illegal drinking and incredibly loud music must be mutually exclusive. Don’t be surprised if the RA comes knocking when you shatter the decibel system with a beer in your 18-year-old hand. Keep your door closed and turn down at a reasonable hour. Remember, your neighbors have rights too, so if you plan on violating their rights at 3 AM, consider inviting them over. Remain unsuspicious, and nobody will ever try to infringe on your fun, or your endowed constitutional rights, or your dorm party. But what fun is a dorm fiesta without attracting undue attention? We’ll next consider the likely scenario of an unwanted party crasher.
Sir, yes, ma’am!
Let’s be polite. Just so ya know, this rule isn’t exclusive to authoritarian campus confrontations. Remember, the responder, be it an RA or an officer, is there to protect everyone’s rights. Be respectful upon greeting. Don’t sprint in any direction. That’s just crazy. Stay cool and understand the situation. Door knocking RAs will expect you to at least step out to talk. You can go out if you choose too, but remember, it is fully within your rights not to open the door. You can play a one sided knock-knock joke with authority. Just try not to destroy relationships. The RAs and officers, these people will continue to exist beyond the run in. A vile defense of your rights is not worth a year of awkwardness between you and your RA when a peaceful resolution would have sufficed. This rule’s probably the easiest. If you need help remembering, police and polite are only one letter (and one ticket returnable to Vestal court) apart. A fair warning, don’t get too friendly though. You may end up damaging your own cause. . .
Don’t turn yourself in.
Time to renege on a previous statement. Do not do the police’s jobs for them! Our 16 credits of classes have conditioned us to be unflinchingly cooperative. “Post the paper to Blackboard by 4 p.m.,” “Read chapters 12 and 17,” “Choose the best answer,” “Bubble the circle entirely,” Disgusting! This unbridled brainwashing leads directly to the heartbreaking Pipe Dream excerpts. Students don’t have to immediately surrender. There is no civic GPA that faces penalization if you fail to load all your alcohol into the squad car by 11 p.m. The police or the RA may try the same sneaky permission sneaking tactics we’re well versed in. “Mom, I’m gonna borrow the car to pick up Raj, alright?” is suspiciously similar to, “Ma’am, we’re coming in to your dorm room, OK?” Channel your inner mother in these situations. Explicitly deny permission. The classic “where’s your warrant?” is pretty overused, so go with the more detailed and cool-headed, “With respect, I do not consent to any searches.” Students off-campus have the full muscle of their rights. Be respectful, be understanding, but don’t consent to anything that may work against you. If you’re in a tight spot with authority, be on your guard and be prepared to say no. If you need help remembering your rights, convince your RA to make Fourth Amendment inspired nametags next semester.