Guest column by Steve Gochenour: ‘Are we our brother’s keeper?’

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Concerning recent thefts (5 in one day) that the college has experienced on the second floor of the library on September 4th of this year, I am wondering if some of our library personnel would have spoken up if they witnessed the actual crime. As you read further ask yourself the same question.

Today (September 24, 2012), I was studying on the 2nd floor in the library, when I needed to go to the bathroom. Since I was only a short distance away from the library attendant’s desk I thought perhaps, she would not mind keeping an eye on my school bag for a few minutes. So I casually walked over to her sitting comfortable at the main desk and politely asked her if she would not mind doing me this favor.

She replied, “Nope, you will have to take responsibility, but if you want to take a chance and leave it that is your choice.”

I thought to myself, WOW, is this what this world is coming to? A nation full of weak people who cannot look after one another? As I strolled back to my study area my mind drifted back to the articles that I read in the JCCC newspaper last Friday concerning the string of thefts on the second floor of the library. If this woman would have witnessed one of the crimes on that particular day would she have been a leader and reported it, or would she (out of fear) look the other way? I say she would have done the latter. How do I know this? Keep reading folks and I will prove my point.

Thirty minutes before I asked her to watch my school bag there was a tall, white male that was climbing up the stairs from the first floor of the library to the second, whom was having a conversation on his cell phone in a loud, audible voice. His vocal chords echoed throughout the library floor without constraint or reservation. I glanced behind me at the same library attendant waiting for a demonstration of her leadership abilities. Is she going to react, I asked myself, and approach the student about the “quiet area, no cell phones,” policy rule on the second floor or sit still and do nothing? Reluctantly, she did not care or was not even concerned for she did not even budge from the chair. What a shame.

If I had witnessed her getting robbed by someone in the parking lot at JCCC late at night would I be brave and diligently fight for her safety? Yes, I definitely would. To borrow the words from a former Alaskan Governor, “YOU BETCHA.” I would not hesitate, but would spring into action and put her safety before mine. Not only would it be ethical and serve me good to do so, for I would have to answer, not only to myself and my peers, but also to my leaders, (thank you Charles Adcox and Mark Johnson) whom inspired, guided and taught me to be accountable for my actions throughout this journey we call life.

In Dave Krug’s accounting one class, we are learning it is all about balancing the books. In this book of life it is full of checks and balances that we continually make every day. Our character is what defines us and every choice, decision or road we choose to take, either increases or decreases the accountability in our books. My friends, being held accountable to the highest regard is doing the right thing.

We, the students at JCCC have a duty and a moral responsibility as future leaders to stand up for what is right and shun that which is wrong. It is called, “balancing the books.” Responsibility and a moral obligation is just a few of what the Cavalier Leadership program here at the college teaches us students about “always doing the hard right over the easy wrong.” We are taught that integrity is a personal choice we all have to make. It is one of those many characteristics that helps balance our life book.

If we, the students at JCCC would actively get involved by volunteering to watch their classmate’s belongings, while they go to the bathroom or local vending machines when asked, then all would benefit and therefore decrease the thefts on our campus. By doing this you will gain respect, honor, courage and a selfless personal duty to one another that will define your character resume for many years to come. We all know that the campus police cannot be everywhere at any given time, but WE ARE EVERYWHERE and WE CAN help them by being a watchful eye and stop these thefts from increasing.

On a final note let me say that integrity, is something that former presidents, congressmen, senators and Hollywood actors have been trying to buy for years thinking morality has a price tag and that it can be purchased. Folks, please don’t be deceived. They can hire the best attorneys, doctors or psychiatrists that money can buy, but let me tell you folks integrity cannot be bought. Either you have it or you don’t. It is your choice.

-Steve Gochenour, student

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