Response to the Martin Report

Information updated on: July 13, 2009 2:04 PM 
July 13, 2009

In mid-April 2009, Colby retained the services of Ralph Martin II, managing partner of the Boston law firm Bingham McCutchen and managing principal of Bingham Consulting Group, to investigate the incidents that took place in the Pugh Center of Cotter Union on April 12 and to make recommendations to the College based on his findings. Mr. Martin issued his report on May 12.

I begin this response with thanks: to Mr. Martin for his thorough and meticulous description of events and his consequent recommendations; to the on-campus investigative team (Richard Nale, Cora Clukey, Joesph Atkins, and Paul Johnston) whose excellent work in the immediate aftermath of the April 12 incidents helped inform Mr. Martin’s own work; and to the students, faculty, and staff who participated in the interviews that form the core of the report.

Most of Mr. Martin’s recommendations fall into four categories: actions Colby should take to set and promulgate clear rules for student-Security interactions; actions Colby should take with regard to its emergency and notification protocols; ways Colby can improve the relationship between students and the Security Department; and actions Colby should take to evaluate current Security procedures and protocols. (Mr. Martin's report is posted here.)

Mr. Martin also described in his report interactions between a security officer and two students who were not directly involved in the events that took place in the SOBHU room. His report makes no recommendations concerning any actions Colby ought to take with respect to those students or the officer involved.

I agree with the report’s conclusion that Colby should have clear and well-publicized rules concerning:

  • behavior that is and is not allowed when Colby Emergency Response (CER) is administering to a student
  • Security’s specific responsibilities when CER is administering to a student
  • students’ responsibilities when receiving instructions from Security
  • circumstances under which a student will be transported to the Health Center or hospital
  • circumstances, if any, under which physical restraint may be used and at what level
  • what circumstances should result in a call to the Waterville police
  • what circumstances should result in the director of security and dean on call being consulted
  • students’ avenue(s) of redress in the event a security officer conducts himself or herself improperly
  • the difference between Security’s role and the Dean’s Office’s role in enforcing policies, including alcohol policies, and on holding student accountable for behavior that violates College policy.
If clear rules do not now exist, we will draft them. We will make the rules readily accessible in on-line formats, especially, and in any relevant printed materials distributed to students and employees. The information will be easy to find, and we will consult with students and employees—particularly those employed in the Dean’s Office and in Security—to ensure that this is the case. We expect to complete this work this summer.

Clear protocols are now in place for the following situations highlighted in the recommendations: when and by whom the dean on call and director of security are notified about incidents on campus; and when, how, and by whom senior members of the administration are notified about incidents on campus. These protocols were not followed on the morning of April 12, and Colby’s senior administration will take steps to ensure that they are followed in the future. In addition, we will consider new strategies in the coming semester for the dean on call program as well as increased training in this area.

Mr. Martin suggested that Colby hire an outside consultant to evaluate current Security procedures and training. Colby has retained three consultants—a representative of Kroll Inc., an internationally known firm with which the College has worked in the past, as well as the directors of the Williams College and Bates College security departments—to conduct this evaluation. They will visit the campus this summer, and Colby should have their recommendations before classes resume in the fall.

The final area about which Mr. Martin made recommendations comes under the broad rubric of “community policing.” Essentially, these recommendations cover the ongoing relationship between Colby students and the Security Department. They included the suggestions that the College: facilitate more interaction between students and Security to help students understand the challenges faced by security officers; make student leaders responsible for facilitating student-Security interactions such as dorm or team information sessions, barbecues, and the like; and make the Security Department responsible for ways in which officers can become more active members of the College community.

These are important recommendations, and I believe we must consult more closely with students, particularly with members of the Student Security Advisory Committee and with student leaders who might play a role in facilitating positive interactions, before we can say definitively how Colby will deal with them. Vice Presidents Doug Terp and Jim Terhune, who have charge of the Security Department and student affairs, respectively, will consult with professionals in those areas about these recommendations.

Beyond the scope of the Martin recommendations, the College continued its investigation into the separate incident I mentioned above, involving two students and a security officer, that was detailed in the Martin report. The officer involved in that incident is no longer employed at the College.

Those with questions about any disciplinary actions the College might take with regard to any of the students who participated in the events of April 12, about any legal consequences for those students, or about personnel decisions regarding individual employees should understand that, in order to protect the privacy of students and employees, Colby does not comment on matters of this kind.

Again, my thanks to Mr. Martin for his report and to the Colby community for its support of the process of fact gathering and assessment. We have a distance to go in ameliorating the effects of April 12, but I believe that the community’s call for a reasoned and thoughtful approach to these and other issues bodes well for our future.


William D. Adams

Video of Campus Forum Regarding April 12
Video: Campus Forum Regarding April 12
Several hundred students attended a question-and-answer session with President William D. Adams and other senior administrators on Wednesday, April 15. Watch the Video
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