A Party, Community Safety Officers, and a Box of Voodoo Doughnuts
On March 5, under Greenwood, a party got a little too big. Community Safety Officers (CSO) got called, inebriated college students scattered, doughnuts were taken to 28 West; next thing you know, fliers are being handed out alleging CSO misconduct. The events are a little scattered and disorganized in the public consciousness, so the Quest dug a little deeper into the matter. While some of the details get a little bit contentious, the consensus among sources familiar with the events is that the incident wasn’t nearly as sensational as the fliers made it out to be.
The incident reports on the event are labeled “Canyon Party,” which seems to be a fairly accurate description. A portion of the report reads, “As we approached, we could visibly see up to 15 people (less than 20) listening to music and drinking under Greenwood. Before we could announce ourselves, the whole group ran possibly seeing our lights… We asked everyone out loud as we got closer ‘please do not run!’ as well as stated ‘Accountability is universal’ as the last of the group disappeared into the tree line.”
An anonymous source that was at the event described the situation. “My friends and I… were like, ‘you know, it’d be fun to go get super drunk under Greenwood…’ [So we] buy a couple half gallons of vodka, [we] buy a bunch of beer. [We] invite a bunch of random friends — there were 11 people, we counted, they said 15 in the report… and then [we] drink and dance and talk and smoke… I was inebriated, and so basically, from what I remember, there were flashlights… someone says ‘CSOs,’ everyone ran.” The anonymous source said that when the CSOs approached them, they ran with their flashlights in a way that the source didn’t feel was conducive to calmly dealing with the situation. The student admitted that they were intoxicated, but they felt that if the CSOs had calmly approached them, they might not have run through the canyon. The source also noted that running through the canyon to avoid CSOs was a safety hazard and preventing students from running would be safer than scaring them.
One of the CSOs that responded to the event, Andrew Macias, stated “Ironically I opted to turn on our flashlights as we got close to NOT scare anyone but the opposite prevailed. As we announced “Community Safety” and I wanded my flashlight, everybody ran like a bat out of a canyon. I exclaimed as well as my partner did, “don’t run!”. Not being the first time a pack of students has run from me, I feel later that most students perceive “don’t run” to lead to punishment, then advisement of lack of safety. Like the students who chose to run in a canyon with little to no light, possibly intoxicated.”
As far as the aftermath for the students involved, many of the students managed to get away, but some left property behind that the CSOs took back to 28 West. Some students went to 28 West to retrieve their belongings, and some were told that their information will be sent to the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) panel. A portion of an incident report from the CSO who was responsible for returning property to an involved student reads “I also let [the student] know that there was the possibility that [they] could receive an AOD violation but that would be determined after the situation is discussed (which is why I entered a Proximity in the student’s SASSI [Shared Access to Secure Student Information] record).”
The student the Quest spoke to reported something similar, “They took my name down, but… I have yet to get any kind of AOD.” In an email correspondence with the CSO who handled the returning of the students’ belongings, they said that the decision to give an AOD violation “is not up to Community Safety. Our department will report AOD violations and it will be up to the AOD review panel to issue any sort of violation.”
The most immediate piece of information a lot of people saw was a flier that read “CAMPUS ‘Safety’ OFFICERS STEAL FROM AND CHASE STUDENTS.” The events according to the flier were that “CSOs approached and pursued a gathering of students,” that the CSOs stole “an untouched box of donuts a student had purchased,” and that when approached about the events, “CSO’s [sic] denied having chased students and gave them an AOD.” Among the more egregious claims the flier makes are that CSOs were “pursuing war on drugs era tactics against the student body.” While the statement was revised on the fliers (with what appeared to be sharpie, pen, and a great amount of paper shuffling and elbow grease) to use the phrase “punitive tactics,” the original is notable.
Speaking with the student who created the fliers — a first year who preferred to only be referred to as “L” in this article — they did express remorse about their original choice of phrasing: “I made the flyer quickly and didn’t think carefully about the phrasing. The phrase “war on drugs” was excessive and hyperbolic. People pointed this out, as we had already printed the fliers we used a sharpie to change the phrasing to be less hyperbolic and more accurate. I apologize for the poor wording and changed it to reflect people’s criticisms.” Speaking to the creation of the flier more broadly, L said “I made the fliers because my friend had asked me to speak about the situation on their behalf because they didn’t want an AOD which could impact financial aid.”
The student interviewed by the Quest who was at the event was evidently not the person L spoke with, as they said they thought “that flyer was, I think both offensive and ridiculous. My main issue was… the use of the term, “war on drug tactics.” I think it was, frankly, like, deeply, deeply inappropriate and ignorant to refer to 11 white kids getting drunk under a bridge and getting chased off by campus security to 30 years of criminalization of Black existence. I think that’s stupid, and I did not appreciate that. And I really thought the juxtaposition… ‘they stole student property: doughnuts’ with ‘war on drugs’ was just, it was grotesque, it was just the most liberal arts college parody I can think of.”
The incident also stirred up some conversation about the CSOs’ purported “no chase policy,” and many students have been surprised to find out that it doesn’t exist. In an email correspondence, Director of Community Safety Gary Granger said that “The so-called ‘no chase’ policy is a narrative created by students in recent weeks that has somehow taken on its own life.” He went on to clarify that most times when a security force chases someone, it is with the intent to apprehend and arrest them, but, as a policy, Reed’s CSOs do not arrest people. Granger commented that, while working at institutions where security officers did chase people, he found that pursuit usually only escalated situations and led to violence, so generally Reed CSOs do not chase after individuals who flee. That does not, however, mean that CSOs never pursue or follow people. In the event of a report of a violent crime, a CSO might pursue an assailant to better identify them or warn people, for example, in a residence hall that the CSO is able to see the assailant enter. CSOs also often follow people who refuse to engage with them so as to attempt to identify them or gather information. For example, CSOs often follow people whom they verbally exclude from campus to make sure they comply with rules surrounding campus closure.
Community Safety seemed disappointed that Reed students were upset with CSOs and not with the students who were having a party. Granger had this to say in an email, “The genesis of the encounter in the Canyon was not the CSOs: students created the situation by planning and engaging in a gathering that they all knew was not allowed. Nevermind the relatively minor AOD violations involved in underage drinking, our public health behavior guidelines—the ones that have allowed Reed to among the very few colleges that have pulled off relatively safe in-person instruction and congregate living—were flagrantly ignored, putting everyone involved at increased risk, as well as those with whom they subsequently came into contact.” Macias also expressed dismay that students expected so much accountability from CSOs, yet when CSOs try to hold students accountable for endangering the college through violations of COVID policies, they are met with students running away.
People directly involved in the incident routinely expressed dismay that the doughnuts were the highlight of the story for so many, so I was considering not writing about them, but they are a point of contention and attraction, so as your special treat for reading to the end of the article you get to hear about the doughnuts. The CSO incident reports read that “the doughnuts were taken to 28 West because there were concerns animals would get to it. It was not sealed, it was an open box of Voodoo Doughnuts. Our understanding is Grounds wants the environment in the canyon to be as natural as possible. That aside, when no one came to retrieve the doughnuts, they were thrown away. It’s likely [the reporting CSOs] did make the comment about students leaving snacks, but they probably did so thinking they were alone.” The comment in question was published on the flier. The CSOs, after surveying the scene, said “Looks like they left a snack for us,” in reference to the doughnuts. This was corroborated by the anonymous source, who was still there to witness the comment. The anonymous source had a comment that contrasted interestingly with the CSOs environmental concerns: “I picked up all the fucking cans, because [CSOs] left all the trash. They’re like, ‘we’re gonna take all the electronics, and the doughnuts and we’re gonna leave all the trash,’ which is annoying.”
While reporting on the incident, many CSOs gave their unsolicited thoughts on Voodoo Doughnuts. Macias said of the abandoned box that it was “easily worth like $50 (no novice to voodoo, yes I like it too, bacon maples all day but expensive).” Granger said of beer and doughnuts they “are not a combination I prefer,” and that he found the box of doughnuts to be “quite valuable.” In a follow up incident report, CSO Cynthia Begg said of the disposal of the doughnuts that “it wasn’t something anyone was happy about and we all noted it was a waste to throw out good doughnuts.” The anonymous source said of the person who bought the doughnuts that “they paid like whatever, $24 for doughnuts. I fucking Venmoed them $12 because I wanted them to shut the fuck up, because I find it a little bit annoying that they’re really worried about the doughnuts, but whatever.”
Reflecting on the events, the anonymous source had this to say: “That was a fun night. We’ll do it again.”
Heh. Before you put out a flier with misinformation about community members: just take a little time, get a little input from others, let your limbic system wring itself out and, as always in every fraught interaction, do a reality check. It is not us-them. It is all us together.