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It all started with an Instagram photo.
At least, that’s how students became aware of the new Emmanuel College ID Policy. The rule requires students to have their IDs visible at all times. This marks a large change in the way students go about their daily lives around campus.
Students were originally notified through a portal announcement in August, but being Summer, many, if not most, of the student body were left in the dark. Many students expressed their concern about the immediacy of the reform, which Dr. Rissmeyer, Vice President of Student Affairs, first addressed at Student Planning Day.
“I think it caught some students by surprise,” said Rissmyer. “I’ll take responsibility for not doing a good job of that. The Student Government Association I think communicated very well on behalf of the student body… that the policy was not communicated well,” added Rissmeyer.
Many students are under the impression that the new policy is a means of identifying those in violation of the no-smoking policy that was also recently put into effect. Contrary, Emmanuel’s administration has urged that it is solely for the safety of students.
Kristen Conroy, Associate Vice President of Operations, stated that the policy was originally brought about by several different departments and has been “kicking around for a couple of years” now, and was not enacted as suddenly as it was felt to be.
“A lot of events have changed since [the marathon bombings],” said Conroy. “It called to attention a lot of our deficiencies,” she said, but also stressed that the policy was not a direct response to any one particular event.
The new policy was constructed and enacted by Emmanuel’s Emergency Preparedness Committee. The EPC meets monthly and is comprised of members of staff and faculty from multiple departments, but contains no students.
Conroy is a member of the EPC, which has recently created an Emergency Management Plan which outlines procedures in case of an emergency on campus. The plan itself does not contain any information regarding school identification.
This policy is one of many that are new to the student populace. Previously, Emmanuel IDs only had to be carried on one’s person at all times, in case it needed to be produced upon command. The updated, official policy can be found on page 39 of the 2014-15 student handbook. The official ordinance outlined in the handbook states that IDs can be worn only on a lanyard around the neck, or clipped, magnetized, or pinned on either breast or belt.
Its purpose is to help identify non-Emmanuel persons that are on campus in the case of an emergency situation.
“The intent is obviously to protect the safety of our students,” said Conroy.
Rumors and uncertainty have been circulating around campus about when and how the new policy will be enforced. Drawing an analogy to Massachusetts’ seat belt law, Dr. Rissmeyer, stated that most likely, punishment for this will “probably depend on the circumstances of the situation, whether there were other violations” that it would be tacked onto. In fact, the EPC talked about seat belt law during the new policy’s conception.
“A student who is… found not wearing their ID would be written up, there would be an incident report written, and it would be sent to the student judicial system and the sanction would probably depend on the circumstances,” said Rissmeyer.
However, Dean of Students, Dr. Joe Onofrietti, offered a less worrisome assurance that the administration is aware students need time to adjust.
“When there is a policy change like this, it’s going to take some time,” he said. “We need to understand that and work with it.”
Dr. Joe pointed out that, with the abundance of medical facilities a stone’s throw away, Emmanuel is immersed in a culture where a visible ID must always be visibly presented. Dr. Joe said it takes time for a “cultural change” like this to implement itself, and was not looking to punish students immediately.
When asked if any student has been sent through the student conduct system, he responded that none have yet, but noted that, as explained in the student handbook, “a warning of some kind” would be issued first. “Second and repeat offenders – I’m not sure what that’d be. I don’t see more than a first-time warning once we start to look at that,” he elaborated.
In response to student rumors that the college was attempting to instill a “culture of compliance,” Dr. Rissmeyer stated “that would sadden me to think that a liberal arts and sciences college would make a rule just to promote conformity and compliance. That would be contrary to our mission and culture.”
Seth Garcia is a Staff writer for The Hub. You can reach him at email@example.com.