Campus safety levels up

Tyler Anderson will soon lead out a revamped Campus Safety. | PC: Zach Morrison

Tyler Anderson will soon lead out a revamped Campus Safety. | PC: Zach Morrison

On Oct. 18, in response to the incident involving a suspicious person on campus, Rick Young, interim director of Campus Security, spoke at the second ASB Senate meeting about upcoming improvements to campus security. Wanting to provide the student body with an overview of changes taking place, I've decided to cover what Young discussed during the meeting and sat down with him for an interview a few days later.

Foremost, Young hopes to institute extensive training for the security officers such as learning handcuffing techniques and baton training. He’s also helping to develop an anonymous tip line students can call if they see or hear suspicious activity on campus.

In our conversation a couple days following the meeting, Young further expressed his high hopes for the future of Union’s security.

“The first change is calling the program Campus Safety, instead of Campus Security,” he said. “Looking at not just the security issues, but compliance issues, [such as] OSHA requirements and chemicals stored on campus.” He showed me a massive stack of papers detailing campus safety regulations sitting on his desk.

Young has been the interim director of campus security for two months now. For the past 14 years, Ron Dodds was the director, but since he was also the assistant boys’ dean, director of Union Estates and the men’s basketball coach, he eventually felt the need to hand off his position at campus security. During the interview process, Young was asked to temporarily step in, given his background in security.

However, a new campus security director was recently chosen. Tyler Anderson, who used to be the assistant program director for international rescue and relief, officially accepted the position on November 1st.

Anderson and Young have been writing up a new proposal for the campus safety officers. Young explained, “In the past they were like babysitters: keeping an eye on things, but [they] really didn’t have much authority. We would like to provide them with the tools and equipment to give them great hands on experience so they could possibly go on to law enforcement or other professions.”

When asked when the training would start, he confessed it might take a while.

“We’re taking our proposal to the president’s council. If they approve it, then it goes to the board and the board has to approve it. So all that said, it could be next semester or later. However, some of the training will start next semester,” he said.

Because the training will be extensive, it will be a gradual process. He foresees underclassmen like freshmen will join security and be fully trained within a couple years. “However, upperclassmen on security will definitely have all the necessary skills,” he commented.

As far as the tip line, it’s still in the works but should running shortly.

“Anyone can call in to the anonymous line and simply pass on an ‘I heard,’ or ‘I saw something.’ There’s a lot of people afraid to get involved. But if you see something, say something,” Young stated.

“We have to be a community, we have to work together to keep this campus safe.”

Once a tip is submitted, the security director will be immediately notified. He can then assess if the situation requires prompt action. In the meantime, there’s an emergency info sticker being developed.

It was suggested during the Senate meeting that every public phone and computer on campus have a sticker containing emergency contact information such as the anonymous tip line and the local police number. Of course, when in doubt, 911 is still the number to call.

Although Young won’t remain in the director position much longer, he concluded our discussion with his vision for the security program.

“In five years I would hope we would have one more full time person, supported by a strong student cadre, a trained group to support and learn,” he shared. “I also think student security needs to be paid more than some of the other jobs on campus. When you look at the responsibility, and what they’re required to do, and if we’re going to expect this training, we need to provide a little bump-up [in pay] compared to someone sitting behind a desk doing homework all night, when security is out walking.”

Autumn Mott is a sophomore studying communication.