Public Safety terminates all student positions

Joseph Tingley , News Editor

Student workers in the Office of Public Safety were alerted via email on Oct. 19, 2016, that their positions as student switchboard operators would be eliminated, effective Wednesday, Oct. 26.

The email was sent from Natasha Eckart, associate director of financial aid. The email cites liability concerns as the primary reason for the elimination of the position.

“It has come to our attention that the college’s liability risk in employing student switchboard operators outweighs the need for the position,” the email read in part.

There are other positions still open and hiring for the academic semester.

— Natasha Eckart

According to Ali Awadi, director of public safety, this meant the elimination of approximately 10 student positions.

Awadi said student employees in public safety did essentially the same jobs as the dispatch officers, taking phone calls, inputting data and dealing with the day-to-day operations of the office.

His concerns, Awadi said, were that students were taking calls from fellow students that were potentially confidential or sensitive in nature. He said all employees in the office sign confidentiality agreements and that no student has, to his knowledge, broken the agreement.

“I’m just the type of individual where I am proactive, not reactive,” Awadi said.

Jacob Thompson, ’19, was one of the student switchboard operators who received the email. He said his concern is finding a new job that will fit with his schedule.

“It would have been more convenient if they had let us keep our jobs until the end of the semester, because we are now essentially jobless until next semester,” Thompson said.

In the email, the student employees were offered positions on the new Gator Patrol Service, which will patrol campus at night to ensure the safety of students between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Thompson said that as an athlete with early morning practices and morning classes, this would not work with his schedule.

The elimination of the student switchboard operator position, Awadi said, was partly so that more resources could be funneled into the new GPS.

Awadi said he has been pleased with the work of the student employees and stressed that the decision to eliminate the position had nothing to do with performance. He said he would love to see them return as members of the GPS.

“I hope none of them feel as if they have been laid off,” Awadi said.

In the email which was sent out to the student employees, Eckart offered her assistance to any students who wished to find further student employment on campus.

“There are other positions still open and hiring for the academic semester,” Eckart said.

Awadi said many of the student workers for Public Safety only worked two hours a week, and if they need to find a different job, they are available.

“There is really no harm or bad intention with them,” Awadi said.