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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Mall of America security: following the rules or following prejudice?

<ir="ltr">Ah, the Mall of America. The biggest mall in the entire United States, right in Bloomington, Minnesota. A bastion of safety and security–or not.

On September 3rd, the Office of Intercultural and International Life (OIIL) at Carleton College took the international freshmen to MoA so that they could, among other things, purchase local phone plans, buy necessities for their new dorm life and enjoy the evening with their OIIL Peer Leaders (OPLs). Or so they thought.

MoA’s Parental Escort Policy is weird. If you’re under 16, you need a chaperone on Friday and Saturday evenings. If you’re under 21 and in the mall during those times, you need to have valid ID. Reasonable enough, but: “No form of college or high school I.D. will be accepted.”

A few of the international students were stopped by security and asked for ID, for no apparent reason. When one of them did not have her passport on her, she was asked to remain within view and was inconspicuously detained until she could prove that there was a “chaperone” aged 21 or older with her because of “safety concerns”–even after she produced her Carleton OneCard and had two OPLs vouch for her. At 5 PM, in broad daylight. And this rule applied for youth under 16–which none of them were.

“Mall of America has earned a national reputation for entertaining guests.”

Well, they got that right.

Questions arise. Why were the students targeted specifically? This is very obviously not a common or ubiquitous occurrence–many other young people, including many other international Carls, did not run into security and their issues.

As strange as this event sounds, it did arise due to MoA’s community guidelines – and this is a whole other can of worms. However, even stranger is the fact that there were other teenagers strolling around and security did not seem to care. Our OPLs were visibly frustrated–we weren’t able to contact our officers and it seemed as though we were singled out. It was only due to the timely intervention of one 21-year-old international student that we were able to move on.

Was this a simple “unfortunate circumstance”–or is there a deeper reason? It seems childish to dismiss this as just plain old “bad luck.” It’s not a stretch to think of this as plain old discrimination, though. Detaining a group of kids in a mall, all of them over 16 years old, seems like nothing more than wielding authority on a capricious whim. And why were they stopped? Walking around? Not carrying their passport–something meant to be kept safe and secure–every single place they go? It’s an outrage.

Apparently, perfectly good I.D. does not identify you in MoA. Not only is this restriction absurd, it defies the whole “safe environment” the mall advertises. Mall policy, and mall security, need to be revamped. If you look different, you’ll be asked questions.

You have some serious issues, MoA.

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