An inside look at how security aides operate on campus

Amanda Crumm

They’re dressed in bright yellow polo shirts labeled “SECURITY” in bold, black letters. They’re strapped with flashlights, disposable gloves and two-way radios. They stay in constant contact with Kent State University Police as they spend long nights patrolling the university’s residence halls.

Fifty-three Kent State students serve as security aides, employed by the Department of Residence Services to maintain a presence throughout the residence halls and provide an element of safety to its occupants.

“This is a job you learn by doing,” said Brian Hellwig, assistant director for Residential Safety and Security.

Students with at least a 2.3 grade point average put in 100 hours of police-based training to become security aides. The training involves 40 hours of classroom work where students learn the department’s policies and procedures, followed by an additional 60 hours of field-based training.

Students finish the training process by taking an exam, which covers issues such as policies and procedures, phonetic alphabet and radio codes.

As a student-run organization, security aides are responsible for patrolling residence halls and providing a campus escort service seven days a week between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. for those who prefer an additional feeling of safety after dark.

Security Supervisor Scott Olah said typically two to three escorts are requested per night, most commonly from the library.

Doug Talarcek, sophomore exploratory major, has been a security aide at Kent State for the last year and said he plans to continue working for the department over the remainder of his college career.

He said he initially started working as an aide because he was interested in pursuing a criminology major and wanted to gain experience. Now Talarcek remains in the program because he wants to “help keep the university safe.”

Olah said Kent State is one of a few universities that provide campus security. He said most universities’ security systems consist only of residence hall directors and campus police.

“I think it’s important for students to feel safe and comfortable on campus,” Olah said. “They should feel safe where they live, so this is just an added layer of security.”

While performing nightly inspections of residence halls, security aides make sure exterior doors are locked and secured, fire extinguishers are inspected and kitchens and bathrooms are checked for fires or intoxicated students.

The aides also assist the fire coordinator with routine fire drills and control traffic and crowds during move-in week and special events.

Security aides do not have the authority to break up fights or serious issues such as handling drug or alcohol incidents on campus. Instead, they alert campus police or the fire department on a case-by-case basis.

“We never handle the discipline aspect,” said Carlos Mojica, assistant security manager. “We document what occurred, and then it gets sent to the residence hall director and they deal with it.”

The aides are permitted to react to noise complaints and roommate disputes, which they attempt to resolve verbally. Security aides are not permitted to enter dorm rooms, Olah said.

Hellwig said their busiest night of the year is Halloween. One incident that stuck out for him was when two intoxicated students dressed as Batman and Robin climbed out a window onto the roof of Korb Hall.

Kent State’s Security Aide program also offers students several tools that may increase the chances of recovering stolen items. For example, students can rent an engraving pen and engrave their belongings with their names or initials. A “risk reactor pen,” which enables a student’s name or initials to show up on their items in black light, is also available for rent.

Contact Amanda Crumm at [email protected].