Students question their safety due to recent protests

Olivia Boris

With the mass amount of controversy in our society, students at Kent State have begun to worry about their safety on campus. Recent protests have left many students wondering how differences of opinion and views between Kent State students, staff and alumnae will be controlled.

“I’m worried about my safety on campus after this (last) protest,” said Kent State sophomore Arianna Kesler. “These protests are creating tension on our campus and I hope precautions are being put in place to prohibit them in the future.”

Scheduling a protest begins with The Center for Student Involvement.  A registered student organization would reserve a space through the scheduling office,” said Assistant Dean of Student Engagement Center for Student Involvement Rick Danals.

To reserve most outdoor areas, protests need to be registered one week in advance. To reserve the Student Green or KSC Plaza, they need to be registered two weeks in advance.

The outline for scheduling can be found at https://www.kent.edu/kentstudentcenter/scheduling-events-and-facilities.

“Once the event has been reviewed, if it is a demonstration, march, protest or speaker it is forwarded to the assistant dean of student engagement,” Danals said. “A meeting may be arranged with the event planner(s) by either the assistant dean or review team. The Demonstrations & Marches Response Team has been trained in managing crowds, de-escalation techniques and free speech.”

“The team is composed of faculty & staff volunteers from a variety of university departments,” Danals said. “If the risk review team has determined that security is necessary for the event, the department of campus safety will make arrangements.”

Kent State assures that if there were concern that a protest could become violent, “The Demonstrations and Marches Response Team assesses each demonstration, march, protest and speaker and evaluates when an event may be escalating to a level that requires police involvement.  If the police are not already assigned to the event, a call would be placed for assistance,” Danals said.

The Kent State University Police Department is trained to interfere with a protest, if it were to become out of hand. KSU Police Department Community Resource Officer Tricia Knoles confirms that all campus police officers receive extensive training on dealing with protests.

“Our department is trained on a monthly basis, which is more than other campus police departments,” Knoles said. “Training is very important to us. We’ve always been trained for crowd control situations.”

“Most protests are vetted through the Center for Student Involvement,” Knoles said. “The organizations request goes through CSI and they let us know when a group or student organization will hold any type of protest on campus. We prepare just as we do for any other event.”

“If a protest escalates, the Center for Student Involvement always has people stationed near the protest,” Knoles said. “They try to resolve the situation first, which is typically is diffused by them. If not, the police step in to diffuse situation. If they were to become violent we would have to take precautions and measures to ensure the safety of those on campus.

Olivia Boris is the safety reporter. Contact her at [email protected]