False rumors call into question administrative policies

Rumors abound at Guilford College: undercover cops at The Pines, a snitch living rent-free in Hodgins Retreat, and Campus Life bringing drug dogs into Bryan Hall and falsely naming them “bedbug-sniffing dogs.”

Students cite a tension among themselves, Public Safety officers and the administration, and these relationships were only further damaged in the wake of the self-imposed party ban at Campbell House.

The main issues of concern appear to be underage drinking at on-campus parties and the general safety of Guilford students, although students and Public Safety view this through different lenses.

“People seem more on edge,” said sophomore Ruby Brinkerhoff. “P-Safe is showing up earlier and kicking people out.”

Public Safety officers view the semester as going smoothly, with one official saying, “There’s nothing going on that we haven’t be able to handle just fine.”

There has been a noticeable rise in the number of negative rumors amongst students, mainly in relation to the control of students’ party habits.

“I guess it’s the secrecy that’s upsetting,” said Brinkerhoff. “I’m hesitant to believe (rumors) because a lot of them are exaggerated or completely untrue, but people believe them and spread them, and that makes for a bad relationship between students, P-Safe and Greensboro cops.”

Brinkerhoff continued, “I think it’s really important for students to have a good relationship with P-Safe. We don’t have that right now. We’re upset that Campbell got shut down, and now we’re hearing all of these negative rumors.”

A student who wishes to remain anonymous reported that Campus Life recently brought two dogs into his Bryan suite unannounced, asking for permission to use the dogs to sniff out bedbugs. The student initially believed Campus Life to be lying about the dogs and assumed it was an undercover drug search.

“That’s not cool if that’s the first thing I think of — that my school is lying to my face,” said the student. “If the administration wants the student body to trust them, then they need to have an open conversation with us regarding their dealings with students.”

The dogs turned out to be exactly as presented, bedbug dogs, but that does not make the student’s concern any less real.

The majority of students’ fears are sprouting from half-truths passed around from dorm to dorm. Most of the rumors are just that: rumors.

“Rumors at Guilford are entertaining,” said Aaron Fetrow, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, in an email interview. “It is like the telephone game we played as kids. One person says something to a friend and within a day that statement has morphed and turned into a gospel truth. Good fun from my seat.”

When told about the rumor of undercover police officers that is currently floating about campus, Public Safety seemed to be the last to know.

“We don’t know anything about an undercover operation, and we wouldn’t know even if there was one. Probably because undercover means secret,” said an anonymous safety officer.

In fact, the Public Safety officers expressed respect and appreciation for Guilford students.

“These are good kids,” another Public Safety officer told The Guilfordian. “They’re polite — say, ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘yes sir’ — this is a good place to work because the students don’t really misbehave.”

The Public Safety officer continued by acknowledging the general challenges faced, but noted they only occur on a rare basis.

“Sure, there will be those couple who are rude to you every now and then or we have to call an ambulance on, but there’s a lot worse out there.”

Captain Richard Whisenant of the Greensboro Police Department said in a statement that he has “no information to indicate that Greensboro Police personnel are conducting undercover operations at campus parties.”

Captain Whisenant further disproved the rumor of undercover police activity on campus by clarifying the department’s protocol and mission.

“We coordinate any of our activities on campus with Guilford College Security to ensure that there are no duplication of efforts and, regardless, any action we take on campus is to ensure the safety and security of college students, faculty and staff.”

There is now confirmation that undercover cops at The Pines or elsewhere on campus is untrue. It seems unlikely that a woman is being paid to live in Hodgins Retreat with the task of reporting illicit student behavior to authorities. And the bedbug-sniffing dogs turned out to be legitimate bedbug-sniffing dogs.
While the reality may be that the rumors were nothing more than rumors, the greater issue remains: a relationship that relies on trust is strained and Guilford students no longer feel respected or protected by their campus safety nets.