Topless or not, campus needs employees

Editorial Board

During winter break, Residence Services fired six campus security employees for their behavior at an off-campus party on Dec. 4. Two other employees quit in protest.

Now, the staff is missing eight employees. This diminished staff means rounds will not be made before midnight in several residence halls. Usually, the halls would see at least two rounds made during this time.

It’s interesting.

As much as Residence Services says it wants to keep residents safe, it has not demonstrated its desire to do so in terminating six employees. Instead of making consistent security rounds in all halls its priority, the department has decided to fire employees who would have helped make such rounds for things they did off campus and off the clock.

The “inappropriate behavior” that resulted in some of the terminations involved four female employees kissing topless at a party, according to Nina Trigalet, a former campus security area adviser. Two other employees who lost their jobs hosted the party.

Trigalet said she was told the employees were being fired for unacceptable behavior that could reflect negatively on the department. She added that she could not remember the employee manual stating such behavior is grounds for termination.

For the record, the university does address it — vaguely.

The 2004-2005 Security Aide Application Packet reads: “As a staff member, security aides are expected to present a positive image of the security aide program and act in a professional and ethical manner at all times.”

The phrase, “as a staff member,” raises the question: Were the employees who were fired expected to be “staff members” 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

And beyond that, who decides what’s professional and ethical? It could be “a number of people” who investigate a situation and make that call, according to security manager Brian Hellwig.

And, how do they know where to draw these extremely sketchy, gray lines between what is and is not acceptable behavior?

Hellwig said those in charge “look at everything on an individual basis.”

It is a scary concept. To decide that an employer may fire an employee if they act unprofessionally or unethically but to not have concrete guidelines of what falls under either category is dangerous.

Without it, decisions made about employees’ conduct are — at best — incredibly subjective. While one person may think a woman making out with another woman topless is unprofessional, another may allege that getting drunk or cussing is as well.

Lines must be drawn.

Let’s draw one now. Students living on Kent State’s campus should be kept as safe as possible by the departments that promise to do so.

If an employee helps a student in need, what — even who — a security employee did the night before, the week before or a month before does not matter. We just want to be kept safe.


Editor’s Note: Two editorial board members are resident assistants, and neither wrote this editorial.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.