By ELAINA MERCATORIS
Q: It’s your first year as director of safety and security. What do you expect to happen at Springfest?
Jeff Schneider: Revelry and fun, I guess, from what I’ve heard. And this is a longstanding tradition at Allegheny. I’m surprised I haven’t read them in a poll, you know, how every year they do the national poll on the party schools and stuff. It seems high for a college Allegheny’s size, but it’s an academically rigorous school and there are a lot of stressors here, so maybe that is why they allow some of the behaviors here. I don’t know—students work hard so they play hard.
The bottom line is students are still going to be held accountable for their behaviors so that will not change.
Q: How has the administration or staff communicated with you on how to handle Springfest as director of safety and security as well as assistant dean of students?
Schneider: We have two meetings each week—a dean’s meeting and one with the Resident Life people to discuss protocol procedure for an event such as this.
I can see there’d be some conflict with students, because, if we’re under 21 we’re not allowed to drink, but yet, for an event like this, it’s overlooked.
We do get asked those questions from students that are concerned. They ask why we allow them to drink. You have both ends of the continuum, because you have the people who don’t want to have anything to do with it and they’re concerned with safety and security. It’s a mixed bag, but it is college, and it’s naïve to think that college students aren’t going to party and enjoy themselves. As long as they do it responsibility—that’s what we stress.
Q: Have you dealt with similar events at other colleges or universities where you were employed?
Schneider: On a smaller scale—[University of Pittsburgh] Bradford campus has about 2,000 students, which is close to here. They have quite a few events. We had not as many fraternities or sororities as they have here, but we had some of those, so we saw some of the same things going on.
Q: How have you discussed the situation with the Meadville Police Department, if at all?
Schneider: I’ve met with the assistant chief a couple times. I’ve e-mailed the chief. I’ve sent them schedules of events coming up at Springfest. They’re veterans, so they’ve both dealt with the situation before.
Q: How will security act differently this weekend compared to others?
Schneider: My office will just address situations as they arise. During the normal school year, we give a lot of escorts. If we find a student walking up the street staggering, we’ll check on them, and if they’re not too intoxicated, we’ll take them back to their room and appoint someone to be in charge of them. But if they’re intoxicated to a point where we think there’s a personal risk, then we transport them to a hospital.We’ve had about 18 hospitalizations this year, which is a lot for a college of Allegheny’s size.
If students are getting unruly, they might have a party closed down. It’ll be interesting to see just how the weekend does play out because I have not experienced such a thing. It’s a difficult call because the weekends vary. This weekend, the expected behaviors are different than next weekend or the weekend before.
Q: How do you suggest students deal with a situation when a security officer approaches them?
Schneider: I always tell them whenever one of my officers is called to a scene, number one, they were called there. What they need to do in the interaction with the officer is just do what the officer says. That is not the point in time to argue because typically the student has been drinking, and hopefully the officer has not. (Laughs) They’re different perspectives on the incident and that’s not the time to settle it.
Q: What is your hope for the weekend? Did you set any goals in your mind?
Schneider: I’m just hoping students enjoy themselves but they do party responsibly and there’s no one injured, there’s no one hospitalized.
If students get arrested, those things end up in the newspaper and it’s not just the student, its Allegheny College, and that’s not good PR. The college does a lot of good for the community and that detracts from it, and that’s what we want to avoid.