Words by Hailee Carlin
The security aide program at Kent State brings student-run safety to campus.
Brian Hellwig, the assistant director of Residential Communities, oversees the security program. Hellwig acts as chief of safety and security at Kent State for the 25 residence halls.
Over 50 students are employed as security aides. Aides are on duty seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“For many, this is their first job,” Hellwig says. “Common sense is helpful, and you have to be okay with working late at night. [Security aides] are someone who want to help other students out and are not out to bust them.”
Training is completely hands-on and consists of 100 hours total. Trainees are paired up with an FTA, or a field training aide. In training sessions, a variety of topics are covered to ensure that when trainees become aides, they will be aware of how to deal with certain situations. Trainees also need to have 20 hours CPR and first aid training.
Students need at least a 2.5 GPA to apply, pass a criminal background check and get at least an 80 percent on the final exam once training is completed.
“We’re fortunate enough to have a robust program,” Hellwig says.
The security aide program started in 1973 as a result of the May 4 shootings on campus. This program is different from other campus programs, Hellwig says, because aides work for housing instead of public safety.
The office is located in the Tri-Towers rotunda. When Rosie’s, the 24-hour café, was built, security wasn’t provided. Non-students could walk into Rosie’s because identification was not required, and café had difficulty preventing fights. This lead some students living in Tri-Towers to feel uncomfortable in their residence halls. Hellwig says, as a result, dining services hired security officers.
Besides doing rounds, security aides provide night escort services, patrol at events such as FlashFest and other concerts, and direct traffic during commencement and move-in day.
A typical night for a security aide starts with briefing at 8 p.m. During briefing, a supervisor will go over the roster and assign aides areas to work in.
Aides patrol in five areas on campus. Aides will do rounds in the residence halls four to five times until 2:30 a.m. from Sunday to Wednesday and 4 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday.
During rounds, aides will make sure exterior doors are locked and secured, check the bathrooms and laundry rooms for residents, make sure ovens are off, check for fire safety violations and ensure the university policies are being met.
“This job teaches aides to de-escalate situations using words,” Hellwig says. “You’re not going to get that skill set anywhere else.”
Nick Lewis, a sophomore construction management major, recently became a security aide.
“I was looking for an on-campus job, since I don’t have my car here, and I heard security was one of the better jobs on campus,” Lewis says. “I didn’t want to work with food and I wanted something that would work with my schedule. I usually stay up late anyways, so why not apply?”
Lewis did not anticipate training to be as comprehensive as it is.
“I had 12 days of training,” Lewis says. “I didn’t know there were different codes and things you could and couldn’t say over the radio.”
Being a transfer student also didn’t prepare Lewis for the rounds that security aides make.
“As a transfer, I didn’t know where every building was on campus,” Lewis says. “I had to learn the campus maps because if you get called somewhere for an emergency, you have to get there quick.”
Lewis says the job is certainly not boring.
“Obviously I’ve had alcohol busts, marijuana busts,” Lewis says. “I’ve only been working for half the semester and completed my training a few weeks ago, but I’ve already seen and had to deal with a lot of incidents already.”
Hellwig acknowledges the number of incidents, but says dealing with those incidents sets the security program apart and makes an impact on the Kent State community.
For example, Hellwig says, one night a security aide found an extremely intoxicated female outside. The aide was able to call for help and the woman was taken to the hospital. Had the aide not found her, paramedics said she would have died.
“Again, we are there for students, not to get them in trouble,” Hellwig says.
Hellwig says he wants security aides to build relationships with Resident Assistants and residents to show they are visible and approachable in the community.
“Aides should be saying hi to students,” Hellwig says.
Anyone can apply to be an aide. It doesn’t matter if you’re tall and fit, or if you’re a male or female.
“A misconception of security aides is that they are strong and tough,” Hellwig says. “But the best security is female. Females are able to calm down students, especially males, better.”
Hellwig encourages more females to apply for the security program and would prefer more women than men.
Sarah Leeth, a sophomore early childhood education major, is one of the females employed in the program.
A former Rosie’s cashier, Leeth wanted a job that was more active and allowed her to work on schoolwork during her shift.
“It seemed a little intimidating at first, but I was really excited to get started,” Leeth says. “There were tons of guys that worked here when I was first hired, and they all seemed like pretty tough people, but they’re actually very down to earth.”
Leeth has been involved in incidents where arrests have happened, but says she loves her job.
“Part of our job description is to build a community with residents and staff,” Leeth says. “We are encouraged to build relationships and socialize with everyone in our areas, and I absolutely love that part of my job.”
Leeth encourages anyone who is interested in the job to apply.
“Don’t be intimidated by this job,” Leeth says to prospective female aides. “Don’t think you can’t do it because you’re a girl. We work just as hard as the guys do, and we do just as good of a job.”
To apply to become a security aide, send an email with a resume and letter of interest to Hellwig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hailee Carlin is the student life reporter for The Burr.