This is a response to a column by Suzanne Heibel (“Campus-Littering CSOs Do More Harm Than Service,” Daily Nexus, May 5). The Community Service Organization (CSO) was created as a student-run volunteer service that was picked up by the UC Police Dept. over 30 years ago and whose name has remained because of the services that CSO provides to the campus and the Isla Vista community. The members of CSO are expected to hold a high standard of conduct both on and off duty. That is why many of them choose to actively participate in “community service” projects in their spare time with organizations such as Community Affairs Board, Environmental Affairs Board, CalPIRG, the greek system, the National Residence Hall Honorary and many other groups on campus.
In her column, Ms. Heibel was very vocal in her concerns and “anguish” over the current bike enforcement methods, including tagging and impounding, at various bike racks on campus. Please allow us to explain the logic as well as the law behind the actions CSOs take before you jump to conclusions and make personal attacks. So as to better educate you on the topic of bike enforcement, let’s turn to that little yellow pamphlet called Rolling Stock that explains the bike laws and regulations on campus and is distributed at every residence hall, administrative building and student center. Rolling Stock explains that a bike, like any vehicle, is subject to certain laws for the safety of pedestrians and other vehicles. This is why you can’t barrel down sidewalks, lock your bike to handicap ramps and walkways or park it where it impedes pedestrian traffic. If there are no more spots available in a rack, you can park it in an organized fashion at the end of the rack in a manner that won’t impede traffic and won’t get you hassled. As for the multitude of colored tags, CSOs collect the littered tags on a daily basis for reuse and recycling. The tags you see displaced all over are put there by students who do not share the same affinity for the environment that Ms. Heibel and the CSOs share. Additionally, the CSOs choose to maintain a rather extensive recycling program at the Police Dept. on their own.
As for the lesser-seen duties, those mostly performed at night, CSOs provide services to the community through the 24/7/365 escort program, the recovery of stolen bikes, assistance with medical and fire emergencies and graveyard security of the residence halls. Although it might not seem important to some students initially, many feel differently when their bike is recovered, their friend receives a late-night escort home, or their roommate who overdosed gets treatment from the CSO who is first on the scene. It is the role of the CSO to assist, not to intimidate. The UC Police Dept., like all departments on campus, follows nondiscriminatory policies in their hiring and therefore does not discriminate against employees of particular physical characteristics. Also on the subject of discrimination, let’s talk about the CSO uniforms. We’re pretty sure that the CSOs don’t like their uniforms either; I mean, come on, they have the “Hot Dog on a Stick” uniforms of the university. Do we have to make them feel any worse?
We were also surprised at Ms. Heibel’s audacity in suggesting to students who are interested in law enforcement that they drop out of school. As a freshman, how can you ask someone to drop out of school when a bunch of you were just kicked off campus and now worry about its effects on your education? Everyone deserves an education, Ms. Heibel, even those few CSOs interested in becoming police officers. As for the rest of the CSOs, this is just a job to pay the bills and tuition like any other student. CSOs are a unique group of students with diverse interests and backgrounds. They quietly endure a lot of animosity and discrimination from students like you, who fail to appreciate the good work they provide the community.
Jessica Hilo is a senior English and political science major, and Jonathan Clotworthy is a junior anthropology and political science major.