ASCMC Concerned About Growing Cost of Campus Safety

On October 6, hundreds of students from all 5Cs donned their nicest apparel and headed to Monte Carlo. However, before being allowed entrance to any registered party, including Monte Carlo, students have to present a valid student ID to the group of uniformed security officers at the entrance. Whether you consider this a nuisance or a necessity, consider this the next time you pass through their inspection: Those officers who seem to do nothing but check your ID as you enter parties cost ASCMC $25,000 last year, according to ASCMC Chief Financial Officer Kevin Sullivan '13.

Before each party, Campus Safety meets with college staff and student organizers of the event in order to determine the necessary number of officers. The decision includes a group walk of the actual event site with the involved parties. According to Shahram Ariane, Director of Campus Safety, the intended number of guests, the presence of alcohol, and the designation of a party as 5C or single-college are some factors that organizers and Campus Safety take into account when determining this number. The decision-making process also factors in past experience with the same event.

Campus Safety, however, has the final say on the number of officers that an event will need. The organization or school planning the event has no choice but to hire and pay those officers the $25 an hour fee each.

For each event, Campus Safety deducts its fees directly from an ASCMC account titled the Pendleton Account, an account through the Claremont Consortium that is funded by student fees. The account is overseen mainly by Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Activities Jim Nauls, and, according to Sullivan, ASCMC does "not have direct access to or control of" the account. Because the Campus Safety charges are directly deducted from this account, ASCMC does not receive an invoice for each event from Campus Safety that it pays off.

According to Nauls, ASCMC has access to the statements from this account, but because the Campus Safety charges are directly deducted from the Pendleton Account, ASCMC has no reason to see each specific bill. At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, ASCMC received the final statement from the Pendleton Account; the statement showed $25,000 in charges from Campus Safety—$10,000 more than ASCMC had originally budgeted for.

This year, the ASCMC Budgeting Committee has to pay off last year’s $10,000 deficit. The committee also budgeted an additional $8,000 for Campus Safety this year, raising the total budgeted to $23,000 for the year.

Currently, ASCMC and the Dean of Students Office (DOS) are working with Campus Safety to improve the system for deciding the number of officers necessary for events in order to find a balance between student safety and what is financially feasible.

“We have some concerns about the rising presence of security at events and their growing cost,” ASCMC President Aditya Pai '13 said. “But we are committed to working with DOS and Campus Safety to ensure that events are not only safe but also fun and financially sustainable for ASCMC.”

An example of this increased cooperation was this year's Monte Carlo event. According to ASCMC Social Affairs Chair Steven Limandibhratha ’14, Campus Safety originally determined that more than twenty officers were necessary for the event, but after negotiations with event planners, the number fell to around sixteen. Limandibhratha explained that Campus Safety and ASCMC are dedicated to the safety of students.

“The relationship between Campus Safety and ASCMC comes during the negotiation process. Using Monte Carlo as an example, members of both organizations walked the location and negotiated the total number of officers without compromising the security of the event,” Limandibhratha said.

In the future, ASCMC hopes to work more closely with Campus Safety to keep costs down. Additionally, increased viewing of Pendleton Account statements by ASCMC should help to avoid an over-expenditure of the Campus Safety budget. With these new systems in place, ASCMC and Campus Safety will further their goal of being financially responsible as well as continuing to put student safety first.