On December 4, Brown’s Department of Public Safety arrested Thony Greene, a man with a history of trespassing on University property, for allegedly invading students’ rooms in Wayland House. Greene, who has no affiliation with the University, has since been charged with willful trespass and breaking and entering. DPS emailed Wayland residents late the next day informing them that Greene was “apprehended and in custody,” according to Rodney Chatman, vice president for campus safety.
But the rest of Brown’s campus did not receive an official statement from DPS regarding the incident until over a week later, leaving most community members with only social media, rumors and conversations with friends as sources of information regarding the break-in. Incidents like these are distressing and anxiety-invoking for students, and DPS must do everything in its power to quickly inform community members about threats to their safety in order to alleviate unnecessary concerns.
DPS issues “timely warnings” in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Under the law, universities must “make timely reports to the campus community on crimes considered to be a threat to other students and employees.”
But in this case, DPS decided against alerting the entire Brown community about the incident at Wayland because the suspect “was apprehended and in custody immediately,” meaning he was not an active threat, according to Chatman.
While DPS may not have had a legal obligation to notify non-Wayland residents of the incident, it certainly has a responsibility to ensure that students, faculty and other Brown community members feel safe and secure on College Hill. This responsibility demands that DPS keeps the campus promptly informed about incidents that could impact its safety, even when this may go beyond the minimum legal requirements. Frankly, more students are likely concerned about an unidentified squatter living in a dorm on campus than the numerous instances of unknown — and largely harmless — projectiles being fired at community members. DPS should have notified the entirety of the campus of the break-in as soon as possible.
DPS, in its mission statement, claims “to contribute toward the quality of University life by fostering a stable environment in which security is balanced with the needs of the community.” When the safety of Brown’s community is in jeopardy, it is paramount that DPS does its job and serves as a reliable intermediary of information regarding campus threats. What the Brown community needs is prompt, comprehensive and accessible information about what really happens on campus — not the bare minimum that complies with federal regulations.
Editorials are written by The Herald’s Editorial Page Board. This editorial was written by its members Irene Chou ’23, Yasmeen Gaber ’23, Tom Li ’26, Jackson McGough ’23, Alissa Simon ’25, Kate Waisel ’24 and Yael Wellisch ’26.