Campus security short staffed, looks to hire more aids

Maura Zurick

Campus security is hoping to hire more aides for upcoming semesters, said Jeff Urban, the Eastway area supervisor for campus security.

“We’re short staffed right now because 10 aides now have to cover the library, but we’re still able to cover every area,” Urban said. “We don’t want to take the coverage away from the students because we’re here to help them.”

Urban, senior criminal justice major, said he’s been an aide for four semesters. As a supervisor, he is in charge of the security aides who patrol in the Eastway residence halls. Urban said there are usually two aides on duty in every area nightly. He said most aides work 20 hours a week, and the university caps their hours at 32.

“Security aides are the eyes and ears of the Kent State University Police Department,” Urban said. “If there’s a problem on campus we’re usually the first ones to respond and call for help.”

Michquel Penn, community resource officer for the KSUPD, said the police and residence services work closely together at all times. During security training, officers go to talk to the aides to brief them on what they will do and how they will work together.

“The aides have two-way radios where the KSUPD is able to listen to their frequency, so if they are patrolling, escorting or just in need of assistance we can hear what’s going on and respond immediately,” Penn said. “Police cruisers are also equipped with that frequency.”

Penn said security aides help because they can patrol the residence halls every night.

“They really do a lot for us,” Penn said. “They come across things that officers wouldn’t find without them, and they control the scene if there is a problem.”

She said the KSUPD can patrol anywhere on campus, but security helps balance the responsibility of patrolling the dorms.

The nightly duties of security aides include things that may be unknown to some students. The aides have to make sure all outer residence hall doors are locked, check all hall kitchen ovens, check every floor fire extinguisher and check all bathrooms to make sure students aren’t sick or in need of help.

Urban said aides sometimes face difficulties like negativity from other students and trouble scheduling classes around their work schedules.

“Some of the newer people can only work two days a week because they can’t adjust their schedules,” Urban said. “Some students have class at 7 a.m. and work until 4 a.m. — that’s a difficult adjustment.”

Security aides also have to complete 100 hours of training, said Brian Hellwig, coordinator of residential security and safety. He said training includes shadowing other aides and the ALICE self-defense program. There is also an application process to be selected to train as an aide.

“Any student, even grad students, can apply to be an aide,” Hellwig said. “Most students are criminal justice majors, but we accept students from any major. It’s a challenge to find people to work for us for numerous reasons, but we always encourage students to apply.”

This semester, there are about 45 aides, and 10 of them are scheduled to provide security for the library from 11 p.m. until 5:30 a.m., Hellwig said.

“I really enjoy my job,” Urban said. “As a criminal justice major, I think being an aide will help me when I’m looking for a job. A lot of the officers at the KSUPD were former security aides, and I’m already working with the police now, so it’s good for networking. I do think anyone from any major can benefit from this experience.”

Contact Maura Zurick at [email protected].