BY MIMI HUCKINS ’21
Mount Holyoke’s students are supposed to abide by the Honor Code, which should allow them to trust their peers. This doesn’t mean their peers are always trustworthy. Among the recent rain spell, students’ umbrellas have been stolen left and right. Seemingly, the only solution is to post in a Facebook group and pray that someone may find or return it.
The unfortunate truth is that these people will rarely get their items back. It’s unlikely that students with busy lives are going to remember to look out for their peers’ missing umbrellas. It is also unlikely that a Facebook post will urge someone to return an item they stole.
It may seem as if reporting the incidents or contacting Campus Police could be a solution to this problem, but once the rain hit and the number of stolen umbrellas began to increase by the hour, it became obvious that it is not feasible for them to find every missing item. Still, this month, three larcenies were reported from Blanchard Hall and the Dining Commons.
It is clear that there have been considerably more thefts than have been reported to Campus Police. Possibly, students are hesitant to file official reports because in the past, contacting Campus Police has resulted in unfair judgement and consequences, and not only on Mount Holyoke’s campus. Recently, at Smith, a student was reported to Campus Police for eating lunch in a common room, seemingly due to the fact that she was black. Through regular contact of the campus police, unjust incidents like these could potentially be more and more likely. In an attempt to respect other students’ safety and emotions, many hesitate to report most incidents, and for all the right reasons.
When students do end up reporting stolen items, it usually has no result from Campus Police. Sommer Byers ’21 confirmed reporting her Beats headphones were stolen from the Dining Commons. After emailing Student Employment coordinator for Dining Services Richard Rigali, she learned they were returned and were in the manager’s office. Yet when she went to pick them up, they were gone. After looking for them for a week, they finally told her the headphones were stolen from the office. Her headphones were far more valuable than a missing umbrella and were stolen under supervision. Reporting this incident to Campus Police did not get her any closer to finding her stolen belongings.
If we cannot trust Campus Police, we then look to the Honor Code. We attempt to trust our fellow students fully and expect them to have basic human decency, but clearly not everyone does. Even though in an ideal world we would trust each other fully, this is not an ideal world. It is a college campus, and theft is inevitable.
Something I don’t see acknowledged much is the theft of many smaller items (umbrellas, calculators, shower caddies, etc.). This kind of theft is viewed by many as an annoyance, but not significant enough to report. Even though theft of something like an umbrella may seem like not a big deal to some, there are also students who may be impacted by the price of buying a new umbrella. Theft of property is never an acceptable option because you don’t know the financial situation another person is in.
There is no miracle solution to this consistent problem. The only thing we can do is become more hesitant in trusting others. It is truly unfortunate, but at times, it needs to be done. Mount Holyoke is a community built on trust with the implementation of the Honor Code, and that is a valuable and important part of living at the College. On the other hand, a little distrust is needed in order to protect your belongings. Just looking at the current umbrella issue, you could either a) purchase an umbrella so distinct, no one would dare steal it, or b) make the floors slippery by bringing it wherever you go. Neither are fantastic options, but right now, they seem to be the only ones if you don’t want to lose an umbrella.