Campus News

Campus Safety releases list of three ‘unwelcome’ individuals on campus

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On Friday March 17, all Bethel College employees (faculty and staff) received an email from Paul Neel, head of Bethel’s Campus Safety unit, warning them of three individuals who had recently been labeled ‘unwelcome’ on Bethel’s properties.
Unwelcome Individuals
Campus Safety released the above photos of the individuals in their email to faculty and staff
“We didn’t release the names (of those individuals) even to the employees,” said Neel. “We sent out their basic information and their photos in case (employees) came across them. All of them have had multiple contacts with the campus, and we’ve deemed it best that they not be allowed on our campus. Each one has a little bit different of a story. One of them is a pan-handler, someone who constantly asks for money. One is a particularly ‘shady’ individual, hanging out in places where (he/she) should not be.” Neel mentioned that this particular ‘shady’ individual has been banned from numerous places within a three-block radius of campus as well. He also stated that the individuals don’t appear to be connected in any way nor do they appear to have any known associates involved in their trespassing incidents. “We want to make sure that people aren’t interfering with what students are here to accomplish: be students,” stated Neel. As for these individuals showing violence, Neel stated that they have not shown any signs of aggression thus far. “I would hope not,” stated Neel. “There haven’t been any incidents to report of any sort of altercations of a physical nature. That’s the hope. I can’t say that any of these individuals are without the ability to become dangerous, but we take these measures of protection to prevent that from happening.” “It’s not unusual for us to have two or three situations throughout the entire year where people wander onto campus without a specific purpose for being here,” said Neel. “But to have all three of those within a week is especially unusual.” So why have there been so many of these ‘unwelcome’ people making their way onto Bethel’s campus as of late? “That’s the million-dollar question,” stated Neel. “It’s been random. There are a lot of troubled folks out there and we can’t really put a finger on it, but these types of occurrences seem to becoming a lot more common in other places as well. We’ve never had three in a week though.” Neel addressed why the email was never sent to students in addition to faculty and staff. “We didn’t want to make it a bigger deal than it needed to be,” stated Neel. “This was an unusual case, given that all three of these incidents occurred within a week. So, at that point, we wanted employees to know about it. Since there weren’t concerns with the housing areas or residents being affected by these individuals, and since employees were mainly in contact with them, Julie Beam and I were in agreement that students were not in direct danger.” Neel continued, “We always ask students to be on the lookout for anything suspicious or not normal. The intent was never to keep things from students, but largely because we were not going to name names or go into specifics without all of the information. Employees, by and large, are the ones who have had most contact with these individuals and are most likely to see them.” Neel stated that none of these individuals have been reported on campus since they were initially labeled ‘unwelcome’ on Bethel’s campus. Neel stated what the typical protocol is for handling situations such as these as well as what it means to be considered ‘unwelcome’ at Bethel. “Trespassing them from the property, is what it’s called,” said Neel. “What this means is that if they were to come back on Bethel property, then they could be charged for criminal trespassing. We verbally or with writing tell them that they are no longer welcome on Bethel’s properties, sometimes the police are involved and reiterate what we say. (Campus Safety) sends them a letter, notifying them of the warning. If they come again, then we will take action and notify the police.” Campus Safety has taken action by sending the letter to each one of these individuals, who have been labeled ‘unwelcome.’ People are encouraged to contact Campus Safety immediately if they spot the individuals anywhere on campus. “Don’t wait,” stated Neel, “contact us right away.” The ‘unwelcome’ ban is not in place for all people outside Bethel, but is instead a way of protecting the open campus. “We love to be open and a part of the community, but when people start stepping over the boundaries of the college, then we have to step in and protect,” said Neel. “We don’t automatically kick people out because they don’t go or work here. We love being a part of the community, but we also want to take action on suspicious individuals...We want to be aware of the potential risks and dangers.”

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