At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, Director of Campus Safety Shahram Ariane increased the number of security guards required at many campus events, which forced student government across the five Colleges to come up with ways to keep costs down.
The Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) has a dedicated security fund, from which any club or organization that is hosting an event on Pomona’s campus that is open to all 5Cs can apply for funding for alcohol events. For the first time ASPC instituted a cap on the amount of funding each student club receives out of this fund. Despite the cap, however, the security fund has gone $15,000 over budget, prompting discussions about how to reduce security costs, such as eliminating alcohol from events or employing student security officers, a program which is already in place at Harvey Mudd College and Claremont McKenna College (CMC) and that has helped these schools keep security costs down.
“[Ariane] scoped out all of the places where we have parties and assigned a number of security officers for each of them,” said Emma Wolfarth PO ’14, ASPC Commissioner of Clubs and Sports. “It used to be that only three officers covered Doms Lounge; it’s now four. Those changes have already been implemented this year.”
“The problem that ASPC is running into now is that we can’t continue to fund security at parties like we have in the past without taking a huge hit into student fees,” Wolfarth said.
Assistant Director at the Smith Campus Center Ellie Ash-Balá said that ASPC used to fund all officers for alcohol events. However, rising security costs meant that ASPC spent $45,000 on security last school year and that this year they are severely over budget.
This year, ASPC policy was to fund up to three officers for all events serving alcohol with a $3,000 cap per club per semester, which Ash-Balá said equates to about 10 events per club. However, she said that the limits have not been enough to cut costs.
“They instituted this rule this year, and it hasn’t worked,” Ash-Balá said. “The security fund is going to be $15,000 over budget.”
CMC, which has also been asked by Campus Safety to increase the amount of security at parties, has strengthened its student security program in response to the higher cost of hiring campus safety officers to supervise parties.
Director of Student Security at CMC Zachariah Oquenda CM ’16 said that he does a walkthrough with Ariane before each party thrown at CMC to determine how many student and professional security guards are required.
At one of the most recent parties thrown by the Associated Students of CMC, the Daisy Duke party, Oquenda said that there were six professional security guards and seven student security guards. That compares to 17 professional security guards that were working at Pomona’s recent Primal party, which Vice President for Campus Events Joseph Reynolds PO ’15 said cost approximately $2,500.
“We want to keep the atmosphere at parties safe, but not totally bummed out,” Oquenda said. “Plus, the cost of hiring students as security guards is about half that of hiring Campus Safety.”
HMC also has a large student security presence which they use instead of more campus security officers at their parties, which helps to keep costs down. The students get paid $15 an hour to do what the head of HMC’s Student Security, James McConnaughey HM ’14 calls “logistical stuff.”
“We’re doing all the stuff that has to happen at parties whether something bad happens or not. We’re checking IDs at the entrances, handing out bracelets for individuals who are 21 and over, we’re checking bracelets if some dorms want to restrict certain hallways to people who are residents,” McConnaughey said. “Sometimes professional security helps with that … But the professional security is more there to look intimidating.”
Wolfarth said that ASPC is starting a conversation about introducing a similar student security program at Pomona, but she is not sure how successful it will be because of differences between the student bodies at the respective schools.
“There’s . . . a feeling that there would be resistance from parts of the school because there are a lot of things inherently problematic about having students police students,” Wolfarth said.
“One of the other things that we plan on doing is generally just planning on bringing together the groups that are most affected by this and trying to have a discussion with Shahram about what we can do to cut down on costs,” she added. “We recognize what he’s trying to do. But the student government simply can’t pay for it.”
If the level of security has to be increased at parties next year, Ash-Balá said that it will be the responsibility of the clubs themselves to make up the difference.
“If PUB has to go up to six officers, ASPC will cover three, and [Kappa Delta], the event organizer, will have to cover for the other three, for 10 events,” Ash-Balá said.
ASPC Vice President of Finance Faye Wang PO ’13 said that ASPC hopes not to make it too hard for clubs to host parties.
“We’re looking for ways to make sure that we cover club costs so that the cost of throwing an event is not prohibitive to clubs. That’s our number-one priority,” Wang said. “So we’re looking at a lot of different options. We don’t really want to expand the security fund if it is at all possible.”
However, Wang said, “It should be the responsibility of clubs to be cognizant of how much security will cost when planning and be aware of how much security each space needs, and that should be their responsibility.”
Wang also proposed that clubs look into whether or not alcohol is necessary at their events, which would considerably reduce the amount of security needed.
The student organizations that would receive the largest blow from the increased amount of security are the fraternities that throw weekly parties on Pomona College’s campus. Unlike other clubs and organizations, they are unable to apply for additional funding for parties from ASPC because they are closed-member organizations.
Wolfarth said she thought the closed-member nature of the fraternities shouldn’t mean their members have to chip to continue their weekly events as the parties are open to all students. “I think we need to come together and realize that a fraternity culture on this campus isn’t necessarily the same as it is on other campuses,” Wolfarth said. “These groups, while closed-member organizations, serve a useful purpose. I think we need to ask ourselves how much of the money do we want to go to these Wednesday and Thursday affairs.”