Vice President for Student Services William Schimpf defended the use of undercover security officers this week, while also saying that many of the facts in week’s Mirror story were untrue.

“We do use undercover officers,” said Schimpf. “However, last week’s article [on undercover officers] was a fabrication.”

“[Director of Security] Todd Pelazza contacted John Puchowicz, who was mentioned in the article, and he denied ever being confronted by an undercover officer,” said Schimpf.

“In addition, no security officer has ever solicited any student for marijuana,” said Schimpf. “To do so would be completely illegal.”

Kyle Yasigian, the author of last week’s Mirror article, defended his story.

“To the best of my knowledge, it all took place,” said Yasigian. “I just reported on things as it happened.”

Despite Yasigian’s vehemence, one person who was quoted in his article denied the story was factual when contacted by The Mirror.

“I never stated the quote attributed to me,” said Tim Page ’05. “The quote is untrue. The only time Kyle approached in reference to the article was when it was going to be printed in The Mirror.”

Yasigian had credited Page as saying that undercover security officers had solicited him for marijuana.

When asked about Page’s denial of being quoted, Yasigian said he was “confused.”

“That’s what was said to me,” said Yasigian.

Ethan L. Fry, the Editor in Chief of The Mirror, said the story had been submitted to the newspaper by an outside reporter for a news writing class taught by the Mirror advisor, Dr. James Simon.

“It was an unfortunate incident,” said Fry. “Sometimes we receive stories from journalism classes and we edit them for content, but it’s impossible for us to check every fact in the story.”

“At some point, you just have to trust your writers. But in the future, we will scrutinize stories like this more closely,” said Fry.

Although there were factual errors in the story, Fry stressed that the campus should not lose sight of what was in fact true in the story.

“We deeply regret any factual errors, but the main basis of the story remains true, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that,” said Fry.

When asked about security’s practices of using undercover officers, many students disapproved.

“I think that having officers going undercover deteriorates the relationship between them and students,” said Chris Steiner ’05. “I had no idea there were officers doing that here.”

Schimpf admits that information about the program should be more public, but defends the practice.

“We should have a statement in the handbook regarding this issue and will definitely include it in future statements. However, undercover security officers are utilized in a majority of schools,” he said. “We feel that it gives us the best chance to deter crime by using a mix of uniformed and non-uniformed officers.”

Yet some feel that the practice should at least be reviewed.

“The school should at least evaluate how useful this system is and whether or not it is worth having if it makes the students more suspicious of security,” said Steiner.

FUSA feels the issue is important enough to look at in closer detail.

“The executive board discussed the issues surrounding undercover security officers and student rights in general as they pertain to security,” said FUSA President Kevin Neubauer ’05. “We are planning on to meet with representatives from the Security Department to get more information.”

The administration itself is also planning on looking at the practice closer. Though Fairfield President Aloysius P. Kelley, S. J. declined to comment on the subject, the Student Life Committee, which consists of faculty and students, plans on looking into the issue at an upcoming meeting.

“I have asked Phil Greiner, Chair of the Student Life Committee, to put this matter on the agenda for our next meeting of early December,” said Marie-Agnes Sourieau, a French professor and member of the committee.

Other members of the committee also felt strongly about the issue.

“I do not think it is necessary for security to routinely go ‘undercover,’ though I could see where the technique could be useful in certain cases,” said Dr. Paul Caster, an accounting professor. “I could see where an undercover operation might be necessary to catch the thieves. But on a day to day basis, I am against the policy as a major violation of privacy.”

Schimpf maintains that the use of undercover officers is a “relatively rare circumstance.”

“We have only used non-uniformed officers twice this school year, and have not used any within the last five weeks,” Schimpf said. “There is no need to review the program. It is utilized judiciously and is a reasonable course of action to protect students on campus.”

When asked whether the system acts more to catch students than deter them, Schimpf said it made little difference.

“Sending out non-uniformed officers is not very effective at catching students, they can generally figure out they are there,” he said. “It is more a disadvantage to non-students who may try to violate the code of conduct or state law on campus. Whoever security is looking for, we hope the system acts as a deterrent if people know there is a chance they could be apprehended even if they do not see security.”

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