On May 31, a recently-graduated Warren Towers resident assistant sent out an email addressed to President Brown detailing alleged harassment of students by certain Warren Towers security guards. The email was also sent out to a number of BU faculty and staff and about 1,700 students who have lived in Warren Towers.
The RA, Junsang Lee, wrote in an email that after he experienced what he saw as an unjust interaction with a security guard and did not get any help from other authorities, he decided to conduct a survey to show how widespread the issue was.
“[T]his is not a personal conflict between a student and a rude security guard,” Lee wrote. “This is [an] unjust system by which numerous students have been mistreated. I wanted to let the school know that how serious it should be dealt with and how much students have been [affected] by the system.”
BU Spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that following this survey, BU President Robert Brown has asked the Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore to “look into the matter.”
“[W]e certainly want our students and visitors to BU to have positive interactions with every BU employee,” Riley wrote.
The survey had 114 participants, Lee wrote. 64.9 percent of respondents said they have been mistreated by security guards. However, this is only a sample size compared to the student population of Warren Towers, which houses approximately 1,800 students each year.
Lee compiled a number of responses which included descriptions of people’s experiences with the security guards, with the names of the students and any security guards mentioned removed.
One student recounted a guard touching her face without permission.
“One of the security guards became too friendly and came up to me and touched my face claiming to ‘wipe off mascara,’” she wrote. “[W]hen I became more distant and stopped speaking with him at all he asked me why I don’t come to him and talk.”
Another student wrote that she had forgotten her student ID, so showed a security guard a picture of her credit card on her phone for identification. At that point she said the guard “[took] my unlocked phone and swiped through my photos.”
“The guard refused to let me in until I let him publicly scream at me,” she wrote. “I kept repeating ‘can I enter now?’ to which he continued to verbally assault me finally screaming at me to shut up and as I walked away he claimed ‘he had never seen such a bad attitude, especially from a lady.’”
Another student wrote that the first time they were signing a friend in they filled out the white sign-in slip and asked a security guard if there was anything else they needed to do and the security guard just stared without answering.
“After a solid 30 seconds of just staring at him and him not having taken the white slip, I asked ‘so can we just go in? Do you need to see my BUID or anything?’ and again I got a cold stare in response. I just assumed that meant we could walk in so I slowly started to walk in with my friend and then the guard just started to yell at us not to go in,” the student wrote. “It wasn’t like abuse or ‘mistreatment’ per se but it was still very off putting and frankly there was no need to be so rude.”
Multiple students said they thought some guards were discriminatory against minority students.
“My roommate is black, and several times when I would go through security with her, they would call her back and make her show her ID and no one else,” one student wrote. Another wrote that there was one security guard she noticed single out minority students. “I would notice him from time to time only yell at minority’s students any chance he got,” she said.
These accounts weren’t limited to Warren Towers. One student wrote that she experienced sexual harassment from a guard at the Towers residence hall.
“A security guard in Towers gave me a note that said he thought I was beautiful and included his phone number and wrote ‘Please don’t get me in trouble,’” she wrote.
Lee’s full chart of the accounts of students who had issues with guards can be found in a reddit post.
Lee wrote that he didn’t want people taking this to mean all of the security guards have problems.
“We should respect their job and have to know that we have wonderful security guards who know the reason why they are working for,” Lee wrote. “Also, we should understand their position which requires them to be strict in some cases. We know and respect that most of security guards are wonderful and work hard for students day and night.”
Lee wrote that he omitted the names of the guards because it was a public email.
“I also understand that security guards are human being[s],” Lee wrote. “I do not want to use the result to attack a specific guard. What I really want to do from the survey is to reveal the reality. My hope is to make better living environment in BU for both students and security guards.”