Protecting Kent State

Sarah McGrath

One night in the life of the security aides

In the early Friday morning mist, with dawn just a few hours away, 20 people wearing bright yellow polo shirts quietly prepared to leave the warm office and venture into the cold spring air. They have just finished another night on the job; one that, as usual, has been full of noise and alcohol.

Who are they?

They are the sometimes liked, but mostly dreaded, Kent State student security aides.

8 p.m. – The briefing

Tucked away in Clark Hall, the office of Campus Safety and Security is only distinguishable from the rest of the residence hall by a few black and white signs hanging outside its doors.

For most student security aides, the night begins at 8 p.m. with a short briefing before heading into the field. A smaller set of aides will come in later.

Amanda Void, senior art education major, has worked in security for more than two years and is currently a student supervisor for the department. She led the night’s briefing.

Void quickly went through roll call, told aides which residence halls they would be posted at and what was going on around campus that night. The biggest event aides had to worry about was students leaving the Bob Saget show.

“They walk through all the residence halls on campus, check the exterior doors making sure that they are locked and secure,” said Brian Hellwig, security manager for the office of safety and security, about what aides do while on the job.

“They check fire safety equipment, the kitchen, making sure nothing is left on and, in addition, they document students for policy violations.”

Documenting students for policy violations is the biggest part of the job and the part they are most known for.

After the briefing, the students on duty prepared to leave the office for their respective work areas. They took a quick moment to talk among themselves and check their walkie-talkies before heading out.

“And the night begins,” Void said to anyone listening, as they headed out the door.

8:45 – The night begins

With the rest of the aides walking to their assigned areas for the night, Void headed to one of the state vehicles to do her own rounds.

She will spend a better part of the evening driving around, checking building premises and assisting other security aides with whatever they may need. Her first stop for the evening was Tri-Towers to make sure everything was running smoothly.

Due to the large number of people who live in Tri-Towers and the fact that Rosie’s is open 24 hours, at least two security aides are stationed there every night.

“Tri-Towers is a hot spot,” Void said. “It’s mostly sophomores and juniors who live there thinking they can get around all the rules.”

Void said Tri-Towers and small group are two residence hall areas with the most problems when it comes to policy violations, while Centennial Courts and upper-classmen residence halls are usually, but not always, quieter.

When it comes to who violates policies more often, many may think men are more likely to cause problems, but in reality, men and women are equal in the number and type of violations.

“It’s 50/50 when it comes to people who make violations and the type of violation,” Hellwig said. “Usually both genders are involved in an incident.”

The most common violations within the residence halls are for noise and alcohol. As of April, more than 700 noise violations had been documented on campus within the residence halls

Sporadically, student security aides will have to deal with a controlled substances such as marijuana, but those incidents are turned over to the Kent State Police Department.

11 p.m. – It’s all quiet

Due to the nature of the job of a security aide, a certain type of student usually applies to become one. For some, it is the job experience they seek. For others, it is the late hours that appeal to them.

“I love to be up this late,” said Nico Szypulski, a junior business major who has been a student security aide for more than a year and a half. “It matched my personality.”

“I am a very open-minded person,” she said. “We come across a lot of diversity in this job from the staff to the residents. You have to be able to deal with a lot.”

For Szypulski, who was stationed at Eastway for the night, her shift was fairly quiet. While completing her rounds of the four residence halls that make up Eastway, she spoke of some past incidents she remembers somewhat fondly.

From dealing with a bat flying around Clark Hall to a group of guys dressed up as Batman and Robin on the roof of Korb Hall this Halloween, Szypulski and the other security aides deal with more then just noise and alcohol.

“Part of the reason we hire students is because they are able to relate to other students since they too are students,” Hellwig said. “We encourage security to get to know the students where they are positioned at to help build a rapport.”

On almost every floor in every residence hall Szypulski checked, she stopped to speak to residents and RAs alike, seeing what they had been up to, how everything was going and if everything was all right.

1:20 a.m. – The night is only getting started

While it may be fun meeting new people and dealing with the bizarre incidents a security aide sees, it’s not all fun and games. All the student security aides have to deal the bad reputation associated with their job.

“I don’t like the fact that there are so many negative connotations with being a security aide,” said Evelyn Boateng, a senior psychology and justice studies major, who was another supervisor for Thursday night. “We are not out to ruin people lives. No one ever remembers when we help a student. They just remember when we write them up.”

Jamie Cox, a junior sociology major, and Tiffiny Rogers, a junior justice studies major, were stationed together at Tri-Towers for the night and spoke of some of the incidents they have had to deal with.

From being yelled at by students to having beer cans thrown at them to being called names, Cox and Rogers said they always have to be aware of what they are doing.

“Anytime you approach a room, it doesn’t matter how experienced you are, your heart sinks,” Cox said. “You just don’t know what you are going to have to deal with. You don’t know what you are going to see or hear.”

Rogers explained there are precautions taken to limit some of the harassment received by the security aides. For example, if aides live on campus, they are not stationed in the residence hall areas that they live.

Unlike Szypulski, Cox and Rogers did not experience a quiet night. Instead, they dealt with numerous noise violations and a few alcohol-related incidents.

Luckily, none of the incidents turned out to be troublesome. All the students involved cooperated with Cox and Rogers, making the process easier. It’s not always this easy though; some students even try to run when they are approached by security aides.

“Every semester we get at least five people who jump out of their window to get away from security,” Cox said. “You can’t outrun the radios we use.”

By the end of the night, they documented 24 students for different policy violations.

“Noise is the only policy where we can use discretion on whether to document a student or not,” Rogers said after giving a warning to a room about its noise level. “Usually we start with a warning, but we will document them if we have to come back a second time.”

3:50 a.m. – Time to go

With just ten minutes until the end of their shift, the student security aides began to wander back to the safety and security offices to drop off paper work and gather their things.

Some are headed to bed to get some much needed rest before their Friday morning classes. Others are headed to Luna’s Diner to wind down after a long night of work and recap their individual nights.

Their laughter and quiet chatter echo through the cold night air as they walk to their respective cars or residence halls. It’s easy see how close this group of students is with each other.

“You develop such close relationships with everyone because of the situations you are involved in,” said Rachel Booth, a junior psychology major, who worked dispatch that night. “It’s kind of like a family.”

Contact room and board reporter Sarah McGrath at [email protected].