Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We're screwed, part II

Point of entry, faculty office with computer, books
     Today’s meeting concerning security issues in Irvine Valley College’s building A200 went well, I suppose. Owing to the good turnout—I didn’t count bodies, but maybe twenty or more A200 inhabitants showed up—the meeting was moved from the so-called A200 “lounge” to room A205, otherwise known as the “mold room.”
     Running the meeting were IVC Police Chief Will Glen and three or so of his officers, including a fellow named Todd Schmaltz, who gave an overview of what’s occurred and what the police are doing. He seemed to do a good job.
     Officer Schmaltz outlined the incidents, including two in which perpetrators entered a faculty office through the window and absconded, each time, with books and an iMac computer.
     Last Friday night—or early Saturday morning; it was 1:00 a.m.—as Schmaltz was heading home after work, he noticed a figure lurking near Building B200 on the other end of campus (relative to A200). Eventually, he confronted a young man parked in lot 10. The man explained, implausibly, that he was helping a friend to pick up a backpack. Eventually, the man acknowledged that his companion, who did not return, was up to no good. Later that night, the companion, too, was picked up—by Irvine Police.

Fresh air? Not so much. All windows now screwed shut.
     It turns out that these two young men—one an IVC student, the other a former IVC student—have significant histories as druggies and thieves. Officer Schmaltz and another officer who attended the meeting opined that these two are indeed the perpetrators of the A200 burglaries. At this point, however, there is no evidence justifying an arrest for those crimes, but the investigation continues.
     Chief Glen once again emphasized that these burglaries involve a threat to property but no threat of violence against persons. They are property crimes, he said.
     On the other hand, when I noted that, though “security” is a valid concern, so is comfort, and yesterday’s action of screwing closed all of the windows of A200 will entail discomfort for some denizens—we prefer fresh air—Chief Glen seemed to upgrade his understanding of the “security” issue to a matter of personal safety, for I was told—by Glen and also by President Glenn Roquemore, who also attended—essentially that security trumps comfort. Well, yes, if security means personal safety, then security trumps comfort. But if security means securing books and computers, then I’m not so sure.
     Well, whatever.
     Another denizen of A200 indicated that she prefers to open the windows to let in fresh air and hoped that there are alternatives to the new status quo. Glenn didn’t like that. Security, man; it’s important.
     Glenn also noted that, in a year or so, denizens of A200, at least those in the School of Humanities and Languages, will be moving anyway to the new A400 Building. That's supposed to be music to soothe the savage breast, I guess.
     The investigation of these burglaries continues.

UPDATE: I should mention that the two faculty who, during the meeting, noted the problem with screwing shut the windows were "holding back" a bit. One reason that we seek fresh air in (at least our section of) A200 is that it has a history—a recent history—of unhealthy mold. My office is next door to one of the mold-affected areas and has itself had mold & water-damage issues in the past; the other faculty is immediately across the hall from the affected area. And nothing says "mold" louder than a tiny office with lousy circulation and no fresh air.
     During the meeting, Prez Glenn Roquemore emphasized the importance of air conditioning efficiency and how that might be affected by the practice of opening office windows. Now, in fact, no one knows our section of A200 better than we do—after all, we practically live there—and, in fact, there has been no history of complaints about the inefficiency of the air conditioning, despite the fact that, down at our dead-air section of A200, the windows of at least two offices are (until now) routinely open, allowing a nice breeze to transect our damned, mold-friendly tarn.

Copier room: now locked shut. Not exactly Gemütlichkeit
     I should mention, too, that, during the meeting, nobody stood up to take responsibility for the decision to screw shut all of the windows—windows that are designed to be opened and that have in fact been opened routinely since the building's construction decades ago. Glenn even seemed to say that it (i.e., comments during the meeting) was the first he had heard about the mass screwage.
     Yeah, transparency and accountability my ass.
     Some will recall that, a few years ago, denizens of A200 grew vocal in their complaints that the building was uncomfortable and uninviting—it had no lounge nor sofas nor any other elements of the commodious workplace. Responding to such pressures, Glenn paid for a couple of couches and chairs and then showed up to take bows. The so-called A200 "lounge" was born, though, as it turns out, it is much more often used by students than by faculty (so uninviting does it remain).
     I didnt want to mention this during the meeting, but I'll mention it now: closing and placing a big, ugly lock (see above) on the photocopy/mailroom door is certainly a step backward for those who have long sought to create a friendly and inviting workplace environment. Every time I stop to punch in that infernal code to open that ridiculous door, I feel that I am working in a prison, not the home of Humanities and Languages (et al.) faculty.
     And do keep in mind that, as the Reb recently reminded me, the faculty environment is also the student environment.
     I seem to recall that, at the end of the meeting, Ac. Senate Prez Kathy Schmeidler suggested that administrators actually communicate a bit with the college community about the thefts and efforts to respond to them. Yeah, right. That's not gonna happen.

I wonder if this is what the new and improved A400 will look like. Security is important!
My and Reb's office: window no longer opens; hot, airless, stuffy--an invitation to mold

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