Students troubled by slow response times

by Andrea Kemp

After recent assaults in Buxton Park and incidents of vandalism in the Buxton Hall parking lot, many Simpson students are left wondering where the duties of Simpson’s security begin and end.

According to those who work in the department, both the growing student body and oddly-shaped campus area hinder Simpson security’s ability to respond to incidences.

“If you’re talking territory, it goes anywhere from Station Square on one end to the city pool parking lot, which we co-manage with the city,” Stephanie Krauth, associate director of students said. “We don’t necessarily have a good rectangle, we’re kind of in a funky shape. But we cover a pretty good area. Wherever there is a Simpson building, playing field or parking lot, that’s definitely territory we’re supposed to be keeping an eye on.”

Simpson security employs 21 people: 15 students and six full or part-time staff members. This may not be enough for the current size of the college. Krauth said Simpson’s growth is one of the biggest hindrances to security’s effectiveness.

“One of our biggest challenges [is that] Simpson continues to grow not only in terms of students but [also] territory,” Krauth said. “While that’s a really, really good thing, what we’re finding as we grow is that there are a lot of times when we need to be in more than one place at a time. And that’s why we staff what we call our ‘busier nights’ – probably the Thursday and Friday and Saturdays – with more than one person, but you still get pushed and pulled and you’re trying to figure out what to respond to when.”

Each month, security responds to many calls of the same nature. According to Director of Security Chris Frerichs in January alone his department recorded 157 reports of propped doors on campus buildings and 72 calls for assistance. Frerichs and others in his department are able to chart these events and look them over at the end of each month.

“These are all things we keep track of just in our department,” he said. “These are so far, and some might change a little bit.”

Still, it seems these “common calls” can create the biggest headaches for Simpson students when dealing with security.

Sophomore Sheena Smitley is a community adviser in Kresge Hall. Smitley said one delayed response from security left her and the students on her floor out in the cold.

“The only thing that I have really had to call security about was a fire alarm going off – they do that a lot,” Smitley said. “It gets to be frustrating when it’s in the middle of the night and your residents are freezing outside, but I suppose there isn’t much able to be done about it. However, I do feel that it has impacted residents’ decision whether to evacuate the building. Hopefully they continue to take each fire alarm seriously in case of a real emergency.”

Senior Susan Sandford experienced a delay when she and two friends, senior Kari Koehler and alum Brian Johnson, attempted to break up a fight in the Barker Hall parking lot. According to Sandford, about 15 people were involved in the argument. When two of those people started physically assaulting each other, Johnson intervened but couldn’t stop the fight. Sandford and Koehler then called Simpson security.

Sanford and Koehler waited ten minutes and then called IPD after security didn’t show up.

“What frustrated me about this incident was how long it took for security to arrive when they were told people were being physically injured,” Sandford said. “Looking back at the situation, if I could change something I probably would call the Indianola Police Department first because I think they would be able to respond faster.”

According to Krauth, Simpson security works in conjunction with the Indianola Police Department on a variety of cases, and it isn’t uncommon for students to call the IPD.

“I guess it kind of depends on who is contacted,” Krauth said. “There have definitely been incidents where maybe the student has contacted Indianola Police Department. They [the IPD] automatically call us and let us know and then we tend to meet them there and help facilitate whatever is going on. There are situations where we might find out first and then might contact IPD and have them come in.”

Simpson security has had a string of more serious events to respond to in the past months – from car vandalism resulting in a broken windshield to several incidents of assault. Krauth said there’s no single factor to attribute these recent attacks to and notes that each year brings a unique set of cases for.

“Each year brings a whole different batch of situations,” she said. “I definitely can’t say it’s this first-year class. We’ve had years where we’ve had multiple sets of vandalism that have been odd, and we’ve had years where maybe alcohol is the biggest thing. This year it tends to be violence – either vandalism or physical altercations. But this has been unique for this year.”