Softening “The Man” – Campus
officials walk thin line between safety and personal freedom
Author: Lawrence Richter Quinn
Date: January 31,2008

Quietly — indeed, gingerly —universities and
colleges nationwide are ramping up their stadium and arena security
initiatives.       

           
Quietly because, after all, campuses are by definition supposed to
be safe places to be historically. Gingerly because academic
institutions are supposed to be places of academic freedom and
concern over civil liberties is an ongoing debate.

           
“We spend a lot of time trying to identify the tone of each
event from a security perspective. You have to find a balance; you
don’t want to over-securitize,” said Elaine Enos,
executive director of events at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif.
“The level of security has to meet the need of the events,
but we are a campus of free speech. So we want to protect everyone
who comes to our events as much as possible while allowing as many
freedoms as
possible.”        

           
Regardless of how these security programs are being implemented,
there’s no question that new efforts requiring everything
from bag searches at stadia and arenas to trying to identify
potential troublemakers from the get-go (rather than after the
fact) are increasing.       

           
“College stadium and arena managers are definitely newer at
looking at enhanced security measures than managers at venues that
aren’t collegiate,” said Gary Salmans, part of the
critical incident prevention management team at Itasca, Ill.-based
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. “At this point, the communities
where these stadiums and arenas are located are just getting used
to enhanced security; they’re not as familar with these
set-ups.”  

           
Adds Sal Lifrieri, CEO and president of Protective Countermeasures,
a security consulting firm in New Rochelle, N.Y., and former
director of security under former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani:
“Stadiums and arenas in universities and college settings are
a little behind the curve when it comes to looking at security
issues. Part of the issue, what’s problematic, is that at
college venues there’s still an attitude that,
‘I’m not really a target for terrorism, there are
better
ones.’”       

           
Security execs at major collegiate facilities understand the
ambivalent on-campus attitudes toward security they face. “I
catch a lot of flack because I do security at the level that it
needs to be done, regardless of actual crowd attendance in some
cases,” said Antony Bonavita, assistant athletic director for
facility operations at Stony Brook (New York) University.
         

           
It’s not just 9/11 that has security scrambling to review
their stadium and arena security efforts. Last year’s
massacre at Virginia Tech has brought home just how important
superlative security is as well. In fact, events at Virginia Tech
have helped increase coordination of security efforts between those
handling campus venue security and those responsible for security
everywhere else on
campus.        

           
“Post-Virginia Tech, we’ve upgraded our contact with
our disaster planning office,” said Tom Colley, senior events
manager at the University of California at San Diego.
“We’ve added campus-wide communications towers allowing
instant access to police, and added loudspeaker capability
throughout the campus as well so we can get information to people
immediately in the case of any incident.

           
“9/11 brought a change in procedures,” said Mark Burk,
who works in security for public events at Utah State. “In
our case, after that and the winter Olympic games here, we began
searching students and our customers at the perimeter. It’s
not uniform here — in our basketball arena, the team is
determined that there not be searches before games. But we’re
doing it with football, because the crowds are so much larger and
because there’s a much greater likelihood of an incident
happening when you consider alcohol
consumption.”      

           
More specifically, they’re beginning to train employees who
have the most contact with customers — ushers and those who
sell food in the stands — on how to identify people who look
like they might pose a security threat.

           
“If you’re a student or other customer attending an
event, you’re going to turn first to the people who seat you
and other employees who are closest to you in the college
stadium,” said Salmans.     

           
“Our volunteers play a big role whether they’re
ushering or doing any number of other things,” said
Stanford’s Enos. “Typically for an event we work with
anywhere from a couple of dozen to 200. They’re our eyes and
ears. We make sure they’re trained so that if they see
something that seems unusual or someone’s demeanor or actions
seem odd, those volunteers know what to
do.”        

           
Another issue: Trying to increase the overall professionalism of
ushers and others at college stadiums and arenas, most of whom
traditionally work as
volunteers.       

           
At Clemson (S.C.) University, working with unpaid volunteers was
causing problems, said Dusty Saine, security director. “Here
we’ve created a unique situation because we pay our student
volunteers. In the past, we had volunteers who would forget the
role they were supposed to be playing because they were interested
primarily in seeing the show rather than providing security.”
      

           
Another idea: Getting executives involved in other areas of
traditional risk management involved in security efforts —
and identifying employees who might cause trouble down the line.
“Most risk managers have loss control people, of course, and
now we’re cross-training them to deal with security
concerns,” said Salmans. “For instance, from a loss
control standpoint you might have someone who has a bad record of
absenteeism and that ends up being a worker’s comp claim.
From a security perspective, this might be a person with an
‘extreme control’ personality who ignores policies and
procedures. So we cross-train loss control people to understand
there may be a security red flag person.
           

           
Is there much more to be done? Absolutely, security executives
agree.       

           
“But we’re pushing ahead with other initiatives,”
he added. “Our next project is to continue working on the
next issue, which is the NCAA’s program involving aggressive
fan behavior and how to get a handle on that. We’re
evaluating that, working with the administration. We support the
NCAA program, which is really volunteer in nature. They’re
asking what plans each university has in this regard, actively
encouraging them to work with fans on this issue.”

 

Interviewed for this story: Dusty Saine, (864) 656-5006; Gary
Salmans, (713) 859-6419; Sal Lifrieri, (914) 576-8706; Antony
Bonavita, (631) 632-7020; Tom Colley, (858) 534-4954; Elaine Enos,
(650) 725-9784; Mark Burk, (801) 585-1650