Campus patrol watches over dorms, students at night

Kenzie Cook ‘13, employed by Campus Patrol, surveys a bathroom for any students who need medical attention. Other duties of patrollers include handling noise complaints and checking for fire hazards. Photo By: Jonah Bleckner
Campus patrol is one of the most visible examples of on-campus employment yet their role at Vassar still remains somewhat enshrouded in mystery.  Campus patrol was previously an entirely student-run organization that performed their duties outside the dorms until a couple of years ago.

However, because of the transition that took place in 2011, campus patrollers now perform their duties within the dormitories themselves.

Starting at 7 p.m., they begin their nightly routine of  walking through the hallways and checking bathrooms, confirming that there are no students in medical distress in addition to checking for potential fire hazards.

In many ways, campus patrol offers students a chance to police their own communities, acting both as quasi-authority figures and peer mediators. Since patrol officers are students themselves, they often offer a unique perspective that one might not find when interacting with the staff members of the Safety and Security team.

In addition to these routine procedures, they actively assist in student-to-student resolution situations, such as noise complaints. However, after the transition from outdoor work to the responsibilities of performing duties inside the dorm, the detailed tasks of campus patrol and how they perform them remain fairly unclear to some students on campus. Students often hold misconceptions surrounding the amount of power afforded to patrollers.

Hannah Tobias ’16, a campus patroller, said, “What students don’t seem to know is that we are not going to report you for being drunk or doing drugs. Our job is to make sure that if you are physically incapacitated and want help, we will sit down and we will ask you if you want to be EMSed. If yes, we can help you to get the help you need. If it looks really bad, we can ask EMS to come check you but will still ask for your consent.”

In dealing with noise complains from student, campus patrol officers can also act as a liaison  between students before the issue is brought up to the security office, helping to resolve problems before they escalate to larger ones requiring the intervention of campus authorities.

Some students involved with campus patrol advocate the importance of non-confrontation in the dormitory communities they serve.

Gabrielle Scher ‘15, a campus patroller, said “I think security only need to get involved if you asked a bunch of times and the students haven’t quieted down. I think having patrol people is great because some people don’t like confrontation. That gives them the option to still go to student patrol first and do student-to-student communication before getting security involved. I think it works out well. I think a lot of people don’t know we do that but I hope it is something we can improve on in the future with advertising.”

Tobias also agreed, expanding on the student-centered approach to conflict resolution.

“Our job is really student-to-student conflict resolution. If anyone has a problem, they can come to us we can go and take care of it,” she said.

The new placement of campus patrol officers inside the dorm has brought about the role of campus patrol as a peer-to-peer  situation resolution task force in addition to their task of helping to keep the Vassar community safe.

Leonardo Rubiano ‘13  is a student supervisor at the campus patrol office. He elaborated on the changing needs of the campus as related to the role patrolers play on campus.

Rubiano stated, “The idea behind the transition is that Residential Life or [the] Security Office felt that patrol’s resources and time would be better suited to having patrollers inside the dorms because at night students are mostly inside…so having someone walking around the dorm once every hour to make sure that no one is in medical distress [makes sense]. Especially with student patrols, there is not a whole lot we can do except to report incidents. We are also not equipped to handle emergency outside the dorms.”

Due to the limitations of student patrollers, the restructuring of the position has created new partnerships. Campus patrol officers work alongside Safety and Security and the Office of Residential Life.

Rubiano said, “The day to day functions of campus patrols are oversaw by student supervisors and staffs. We also work with a liaison person from the Residential Life and a liaison officer from the Security Office.”

In addition to having the chance to help maintain security on campus, patrollers are also afforded certain benefits for their work. The campus patrol office provides patrollers with flexible working hours and have no limits to the number of hours that students can work in a week . In addition, promotion to become staff members of campus patrol office are also possible.

Scher elaborated on the personal satisfaction that comes with working as a campus patrol officer, “The best part about working as a campus patrol is the flexible working hours and the availability of promotion to go up. If you can’t make it to a shift, you can ask for people to cover your shift. I also take pride in this job as it is keeping the dorms safe.”

Since the major restructuring of campus patrol that occurred a couple of years ago, Rubiano said he would be interested to know about how patrollers are perceived by students on campus.

Both Scher and Tobias said they hope that the role of campus patrol will become more understood in the Vassar community as time goes by.

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