Shortage of four guards leads RAs to take on makeshift security roles

The Quad seen on the night of August 11, 2020. Credit: Kylie Cooper

At midnight on September 5, over the Labor Day weekend, a group of resident advisers noticed that the upper turnstiles of the Quad Gate were left unattended, with no Allied Universal Security guards in sight. This continued for three hours after midnight, the RA said. There was only one guard on duty in the information center, which they said was busy managing student passes and was unable to monitor students entering the gate.

First-year Quad residents also reported ranger shortages on several occasions after Labor Day weekend, including a week later on September 14, the RAs told the Daily Pennsylvanian.

The reported shortages last month of Allied Universal Guards at the Quad Entrance have left some RAs, who are Penn’s undergraduates, to hold the gates themselves. After filing official incident reports in September regarding the shortage, the RAs said they had received no word from Penn’s College Houses and Academic Services, and then felt compelled to take responsibility. additional to maintain the safety of Quad.

Two RAs who spoke to the DP requested anonymity due to new measures implemented by CHAS prohibiting RAs and graduate resident advisers from speaking to the media. Three The RAs confirmed the accounts mentioned in the DP.

CHAS Executive Director Hikaru Kozuma wrote in a September 29 email to the DP that CHAS had followed all reports sent by the RAs regarding the alleged shortage of guard personnel and was working with the Public Security Division to resolve any issues.

“Student leaders can bring their concerns to their house directors, as well as to me as the executive director,” Kozuma wrote. “When there are problems, we work with the students and our partners at the university to resolve them.”

But Vice President of Public Safety and Penn Police Department Superintendent Maureen Rush told the DP on September 21 that information about a shortage of guards had not come to her.

Rush said that with the layers of security protocols in place for the Quad – including the high fenced perimeter, numerous security cameras, and allied security guards – ARs shouldn’t feel the need to intervene.

“The relationship with Penn is pretty tough,” a Quad RA told the DP. “The administration is not very transparent. They take the work of RAs for granted in many ways.

Over the Labor Day weekend, the second Quad RA who spoke to the DP said the RAs felt pressured to watch the door after seeing large numbers of intoxicated students returning to the Quad after the music festival Made in America.

“We saw … really high [incidences] people fainting in living rooms, people needing to call [the Medical Emergency Response Team] for their friends because normally these people would be stopped at the front door, and MERT would be called to the situation, but now there is no one there, ”they said.

They added that some students were unable to receive prompt and proper medical treatment at the door, including for alcohol abuse.

“A lot of people who would normally be stopped at the Upper Quad Gate for extreme poisonings were passing by,” the second RA said. “You kind of feel like you have to take the place of the security guard and take on that role, like checking passes and seeing how drunk people are, which is not our job.”

The second RA told the DP that several phone calls were made to Penn Police on September 5, and said a supervisor who picked up the phone responded that they couldn’t spare additional officers for the door. Superior quad. But the supervisor told the RAs that Penn Police officers would be monitoring the Quad’s CCTV cameras and other officers would walk past the door on their rounds.

Shortly after the shortage of guards over the Labor Day weekend, the RAs said the RAGRAs had met a principal at College House and were told they shouldn’t feel pressured to hold the doors, as they had not been trained by CHAS to do so.

Some RAs were still reluctant to leave the turnstiles empty because they feared for the safety of the students.

“It’s a bit of a catch-22. Am I taking care of myself and not going to the upper Quad gate? Or do I bring my residents back, and not get arrested and have alcohol poisoning when they are in my care? Said the second RA. “It worries me a bit that we tell parents that their kids are going to be totally safe, and it’s a bit difficult to guarantee that if there is no one watching the front doors. ”

Those who occupied the Upper Quad Gate last month said the shift overtime was on top of a significant unpaid time commitment on top of their typical 15- to 20-hour work weeks.

“Working in the upper Quad Gate added at least a few hours a day, a lot of emotional stress, and a responsibility we are not necessarily trained for,” said the second RA. “And that’s not a responsibility we should have to shoulder. It’s not fair to us or the residents.”

Some RAs also mentioned that due to the lack of security at the turnstiles, the COVID-19 masking protocols for students passing through the gate were not being properly enforced.

On several occasions, the RAs have stationed themselves at the upper Quad gate and distributed masks to students entering through the gate, which they say is the responsibility of the security guards standing at the turnstiles. The RAs said they also saw Allied Universal Guards unmasked on several occasions during their service.

Several RAs said staff on duty had returned to normal in recent weeks and that Allied Universal Quad guards were more closely following COVID-19 security protocols.

The RAs who spoke to the DP said they wanted increased communication from the Penn administration and CHAS on issues occurring in colleges, such as guard shortages, which they believe will alleviate the problem. confusion and emotional distress related to work.

RAGRAs have also encountered difficulties working with Penn and CHAS in previous semesters. Last year, the University rejected a letter sent by more than 135 RAGRAs to the administration demanding a new contract with risk premium and a clear outline of their responsibilities, prompting the RAGRAs to want to resign.

“It feels like we’ve been kind of abandoned by the administrators of CHAS and received very little advice on what to do in this kind of overwhelming situation,” said the second RA.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include an additional statement from Vice President of Public Safety and Penn Police Department Superintendent Maureen Rush on Quad Safety Protocols and the Role of RAs.


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