New department, role for Student Patrol

Student Patrol staff fear cutbacks

Campus Security’s Student Patrol staff may find themselves working fewer shifts, in different uniforms and under a new name next year, depending on regulations arising from the recently passed Bill 159.

On March 23, Campus Security Director David Patterson met with all Student Patrol staff, emergency response operators and supervisors to inform them of changes that may arise due to the provincial bill which was passed on Dec. 15 2005.

Bill 159 will require any security guard to obtain a license through examination after at least 40 hours of training. The new bill may affect security on campus including Student Constables, Walkhome and Student Patrol.

“Campus Security is not seeking an exemption from the bill,” Patterson said. “The students employed in our department [as Student Patrols] will continue to be employed by the University, but they’ll be employed by Physical Plant Services (PPS) on a nightly basis.”

Tentatively dubbed the “facilities team,” Patterson said Student Patrols will essentially be doing the same job, but under a different name and department. The “facilities team” will continue to walk around campus reporting any suspicious activity and ensuring buildings are securely locked.

Amr Abuzeid, a master’s student in computer science and a Student Patrol staff-member, said he thinks the duties of Student Patrols will change if they are placed under PPS next year.

“We’re not doing the same thing,” he said. “We’re not responding to fire alarms, we’re not responsible for crowd control ... when supervisors are looking for suspicious people, supervisors take us around.” Abuzeid said the Student Patrols would also lose work opportunities because they wouldn’t be able to perform security-related functions, such as providing security at Homecoming, Orientation Week and Convocation, as they had in the past.

In a document written and signed by the entire student patrol staff, called “Maintaining the Student Patrol Program” and directed towards the office of Tom Morrow, associate vice-principal (operations and finance), the students called for a review of policy changes that will affect their jobs.

The document describes possible changes to the Student Patrol program as a result of Bill 159 that were outlined by Patterson in the March 23 meeting. The document stresses the Student Patrol program’s positive impact on students, staff and the Queen’s community. It also offers suggestions of alternative ways to deal with the new legislation from a student perspective.

Jenn Hirano, AMS VP (Operations), said the AMS is currently seeking an exemption from the Bill on the grounds that StuCons and Walkhome differ from other forms of security because they are student-run. If the AMS is unable to receive an exemption from the Bill, other options, such as in-house training for StuCons and Walkhome staff will be considered, Hirano said.

The Student Patrol document suggests that, if in-house training is offered by the AMS, Student Patrols could train alongside AMS security staff in order to reduce the cost of training and licensing.

Patterson said the proposal to move student patrol to PPS is not due to funding issues.

“We are at a preliminary point of this process,” he said. “We know what the legislation is but the province has not yet released the details concerning regulations and training requirements.

“Once we see what those training requirements are and how they’ll be delivered, then it’ll probably be more appropriate at that time to comment [on the possibility of training Student Patrols],” he said. Patterson said that at this point, Campus Security is not considering special training for Student Patrols because they do not know what they are dealing with in terms of regulations and training guidelines.

“What our student foot patrols do now is patrol campus,” he said. “They are the eyes and ears for the full-time supervisor.

“When they observe suspicious activity, they report it to the supervisor and that’s exactly what they’re going to be doing [under PPS].”

While Patterson said he’s unable to confirm whether the number of student staff will remain the same next year, Abuzeid said he believes student positions will decrease next year because of fewer shifts.

“What they’re doing now is coming up with a quick plan to shield us and to maintain some student positions,” Abuzeid said. “But we’re looking for a commitment from the administration to say, ‘If the University can offer in-house training, we’re willing to bring back the Student Patrol program and to start making plans for it.’”

According to the document written by Student Patrols, the staff is willing to have the mandatory training as volunteer hours rather than paid hours. The students said they are willing to accept any changes that will allow for the program’s continued existence.

The Ministry did not return the Journal’s requests for information regarding when details of the Bill will be released.

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