By HALEY SPENCER
Before April 1, The University of Mary Washington held a contract with Allied Barton Security Inc, an internal security force. UMW employed officers from this company to man the front desk at Eagle Landing after midnight and on weeknights.
Between February and March of this year, UMW police decided to end their contract on April 1 with Allied Barton Security. Ending the contract meant that Residence Life was left in charge of securing Eagle Landing at night and on weekends.
Chris Porter, director of Residence Life and Commuter Student Services, had a little over a month to find security to man the front desk. Earlier this semester, a few of the Eagle Landing desk attendants had quit, also leaving multiple daytime positions vacant.
After the contract ended, Many Eagle Landing residents noticed the lack of staffing at the front desk.
“Many of the front-desk attendants worked multiple shifts, maybe several times a week which was more frequent than I remember from last semester,” said Gabe Lewis, a sophomore political science major.
Lewis said that he had not seen the front desk empty during the day, but noted that the front desk was often empty after midnight.
“I figured something was up because there weren’t any guards checking ID’s and some nights when coming back after [midnight] when we usually have to show Eagle Ones, the office would be closed and there would be nobody there to check them to verify we were students,” said Lewis. “Usually RAs ended up checking IDs, but they weren’t always there.”
Some Eagle Landing residents missed the friendly faces of the early morning and late night security guards.
“I remember there was this one security guard that would sit at the front desk in the mornings, and he would say ‘good morning’ to me and be friendly,” said senior biology major, Morgan McMahon. “Now I’m kind of sad to see him go.”
While Reslife is working towards hiring new staff to fill these vacancies, the process is not as immediate as they would hope for it to be.
“Sadly, hiring staff doesn’t always move as fast as we’d like—we had to work through funding issues, having the correct number of positions, hiring people specifically for overnight shifts and the actual review of applications, hiring, background checks and finally training,” said Porter. “We were still in that process when the ABS contract ended.”
Porter said that while going through the hiring process, finding out what to do about the night shifts for RAs was also added onto the to-do list.
“We wanted to make sure we could continue to provide that service to Eagle Landing residents, so we reviewed a number of potential scenarios, including paying the RAs additional remuneration to work the front desk,” said Porter. “We also considered hiring temporary workers, offering shifts to our office assistants and potentially hiring students. It is up to the RAs if they would like to pick up desk shifts—it is not required.”
While the lack of security guards may leave students feeling that they might in danger, Porter said that RAs are thoroughly trained by Reslife.