Campus, News

42 students charge guards with racism

By Karen Eschbacher

Forty-two minority Boston University students have charged that some BU security guards are racist· and routinely hassle them when they try to enter their dormitories.

College of General Studies freshman Jean-Paul Limontas circulated a petition throuth CGS last month after he had a run in with a Rich Hall security guard but has not yet decided if he will send it to the administration.

The petition states that “there is a discriminatory treatment towards people of color (of black or Latino appearance) and favoritism of the white students exercised by the security guards.”

Limontas said he was not allowed to sleep in his Rich Hall dormitory room on Feb. 22 because he had lost his BU ID.

Limontas said security guards may have made confirming his identity difficult because he is black.

“Initially, I started the petition just to find out if there are other students of color who went through similar situations or anything close to it, and there were a lot,” Limontas said.

Limontas said Pauline Gauthier, the Rich Hall director, told him he could not sleep in the dorm without his BU ID.

He said Gauthier and three BU Police Department officers escorted him to his room so he could get clothes for the night. Even though it was obvious the room belonged to him, Limontas said he was not allowed to stay.

“Me and my wife were escorted out of the building by BUPD,” he said. I ended up going to her dorm [at Boston College].”

Herbert A. Ross, BU’s associate vice president and associate dean of students, said Limontas was never told he could not sleep in his room and that the guards were following standard procedure.

Nicolas, a black CGS freshman who asked that his last name be withheld, said he entered the dorm with three white friends from BC while Limontas argued with the security guards.

“My three friends that were white just walked past the guard without showing ID,” he said. “There’s always an issue of ID with people of color coming into the building.”

Ken Elmore, the associate director of residence life, investigated the complaint but found no evidence of discrimination. Elmore did not return several messages left at his office.

Devyn Watson, another CGS freshman who signed the petition, said he thinks some security guards favor white students, but he has not brought his concerns to the administration because he does not think anything will be done.

“I figure there’s not really much I can do about it. It’s not really an extreme situation,” Watson said. “It’s not really that bad, but I think it sends a message.”

Despite the number of students who signed the petition, the administration has received few complaints, Ross said.

“I honestly get as many complaints from white students about getting harassed because they don’t have their IDs. It’s not a color issue. It’s really an issue of ‘Do you belong here?’” Ross said.

Students who are concerned about the way they are treated should bring the matter to the administration, he said.

“We’re very harsh when it comes to security in resident halls, but we do that to protect the safety of the residents,” Ross added.

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