Campus security short several employees

Sean Joseph

University fires 6 aides due to party antics

Campus security is short-staffed because six employees lost their jobs for their behavior at an off-campus party on Dec. 4. Two other employees quit in protest.

Eastway, Twin, Honors, Centennial Courts A through D, Lake, Olson, Leebrick and Korb halls will not have any security rounds made before midnight, and there will only be two rounds after midnight, said Brian Hellwig, the interim security manager.

Normally at least two other rounds would be made in each of those halls between 8 p.m. and midnight.

Campus security lost eight employees with experience ranging from three semesters to four years.

Because Ohio is an “at will” employment state, the university had legal bearing to dismiss these employees, said Tim Smith, legal adviser for the Stater.

“If you don’t have a contract, you can be fired for just about anything, providing it doesn’t violate a federal law,” Smith said.

Hellwig and Betsy Joseph, director of residence services, said the staff shortage was because several employees did not return for the spring semester. Joseph said it was normal to be short-staffed at the beginning of the semester and that it took some time to hire and train security aides last fall, too.

Nina Trigalet, senior criminal justice major and former campus security area adviser, did not agree with Joseph. The terminations and resignations caused the staff shortage, not a normal turnover of staff, she said.

Hellwig “told us we were being fired for ‘inappropriate behavior’ that could reflect negatively on the department,” Trigalet said.

Lindsey Elmore, junior crafts major and another former security area supervisor, said it did not have anything to do with the normal turnover of staff when she lost her job for the same reason as Trigalet.

The “inappropriate behavior,” which was the topic of gossip in the security department, involved four female security employees “making out with each other topless” at a party, Trigalet said. The terminations were unjust, she said. Trigalet could not remember anything written in the employee manual about her behavior at the off-campus party being a just cause for termination.

“We’re all consensual adults. We all knew what we were doing, and we all got fired,” Trigalet said. “My opinion is that what I do on my free time is my own business. We did nothing illegal.”

The two males who hosted the party were former security area supervisors, and they would not release their names because they are seeking legal counsel against the university, said Erin Cecil, a junior accounting major. Cecil said she also lost her job because of her participation in the party.

Later, Joseph declined to comment on any personnel decisions and simply said security was short-staffed for a variety of reasons, and the cuts had to be made.

“We have to have alternate plans when issues arise. The resident assistant staff will continue to respond to situations in the residence halls,” Joseph said.

Buildings that now have less security were chosen based on traffic, incidents and behavior problems from the past, Joseph said. Security is a top priority for residence services, and it is in the process of hiring and training new staff.

The department is always concerned with safety but had no immediate concerns about cutting security rounds in the affected buildings, Joseph said.

The affected buildings are less active, Hellwig said. Higher maintenance halls, like Terrace, Koonce and Wright, have at least five rounds every night. Residents won’t notice a difference. They are going see security aides there just not as often Hellwig said.

“We will always continue to evaluate things,” Hellwig said. “If we see an area that needs additional attention, we will put more staff in that area.”

Contact safety reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected]