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When a group of first-year students began taunting Patrol members with cries of “Snitches!” in the residence hallways last semester, complaints were lodged with Nicholas Hatt. Many Patrol workers have come to accept verbal harassment and rudeness, such as doors slammed in their faces, as an inevitable part of their job.

After moving out of residence in her second year at King’s, Lindsay Logie was concerned she would lose touch with the quad community. She thought a job on campus would help keep her connected. So Logie joined Patrol in September 2010.
“Patrol was so present for me in first year,” she said. “It seemed like a good way to make friends and be connected between the years at King’s, and that was something I really wanted to hold onto.”
Logie’s colleagues echo her reasoning for taking the job. On the surface, Patrol is the perfect opportunity to have a presence on campus without having to live at King’s. And, hey, the shifts are scheduled around class times and the job pays above minimum wage.
But this initial optimism fades after a year of red T-shirted late nights.
“I notice a difference in the way I perceive it because last year I was new and it was all very different to me,” says Patrol member Laura Holtebrinck. “This year, I’ve already done the job for a while and I feel like … I’ve gotten a little more cynical.”
Like many Patrol workers, Holtebrinck lived on campus during her first year at King’s. She says this experience makes her more understanding of residence students’ occasionally unruly behavior during her shifts. “I think the point of having a student patrol is this power to relate to the residence students and be able to tackle problems on their sort of level.”
But sometimes, too much is too much.
When a group of first-year students began taunting Patrol members with cries of “Snitches!” in the residence hallways last semester, complaints were lodged with Dean of Residence Nicholas Hatt, who acts as the staff supervisor for Patrol.
The call-outs eventually came to an end. Still, many Patrol workers have come to accept verbal harassment and rudeness, such as doors slammed in their faces, as an inevitable part of their job. “I feel like there’s a culture where you’re just expected to brush it off as ‘Oh, they’re drunk. They’re first-years. They don’t mean anything by it,’ when I don’t think that’s always the case,” says Logie, who adds that students have singled her out for harassment.
Patrol’s two days of training at the beginning of the school year do not include strategies for dealing with different types of harassment and abuse, says Hatt, explaining such incidents have been rare.
In its place, the training encourages the use of a non-confrontational technique called “verbal judo”, which aims to diffuse tension and calm aggression.
Patrol veteran Phoebe Mannell says their training is helpful for dealing with cooperative students, but leaves workers at a loss at how to tackle the occasional tough situation.
The “verbal judo” technique also assumes a certain level of respect from students toward Patrol workers, which is not always easy to establish. “I think the student-student relationship is an ongoing challenge that people on Patrol face,” says third-year Patroller Stefanie Bliss. “Our authority in our position only extends so far as the people that we’re working for want to accept it.”
Bliss says she introduces herself to as many residence students as possible. When they know her by name, she finds she receives better treatment while on duty.
But friendship can pose its own set of problems.
“I do think it’s also important to keep that differentiation between your relationship with someone as a friend or acquaintance and your relationship with them as a person who is on Patrol,” says Jacqueline Vincent, Patrol Student Supervisor. “That can be a fine balancing act, but that’s definitely a separation that we need to keep and I think we do.”
Logie’s not so sure. She says the potential social repercussions of reprimanding friends or the friends of coworkers are always in the back of her mind when she is on duty. She finds it confusing knowing when she should follow the rules by the book, and when to go along with her partner’s judgment call. “It’s just at your discretion as a member of the community,” she says.
While Logie is a fan of Patrol’s non-aggressive and non-confrontational mantra, she worries that members are not given any tools in place of these disciplinary mechanisms. “Patrol is a hypothetical authority, as scary as that is to say. It’s more based on respect. It’s not based on any real power that Patrol has on campus.”
Patrol workers cannot fine or reprimand students in any way for violating the rules set out in the Residence Guidelines or College Code of Conduct. Instead, they fill out incident reports at the end of every shift, noting any student misconduct. The reports, along with a logbook detailing other difficulties faced by Patrol over the course of a shift, are sent to Hatt for revision every day. It is then up to Hatt whether or not to pursue the complaint.
“In one word, I would say it’s flexible. It’s incredibly flexible,” says Hatt of the repercussions for student misconduct on campus. He says that the Guidelines and Code provide him, Patrol and the residence dons with considerable leeway in handling situations on a case-by-case basis, which helps avoid detached punishments that ignore the student behind the act. The system also allows for students to view and appeal any incident reports concerning them. Hatt says this practice ensures disciplinary decisions remain fair, objective and transparent.
The Patrol workers are only notified of follow-ups when a student is banned from campus or when a complaint directly involves them. Holtebrinck says she wishes Patrol was made more aware of how their incident reports were being handled, to see what comes of their work.
Logie thinks it’s little, if anything. She describes the disciplinary mechanisms at King’s as nonexistent. “There are some in place, but they’re so rarely employed that I don’t feel that they’re effective, and I feel that past a certain point in the semester, students figure out that nothing’s going to happen to you if you don’t listen.” She adds that the rules seem to apply differently to different people, depending on their ‘social capital’ in the King’s community.
Mannell agrees that some students take advantage of the rules’ leniency. Still, she finds that leniency is an important part of what makes Patrol human as compared to other security forces. Patrol’s face-to-face interactions with students on campus are what make the system so special to King’s, says Hatt. “I think Patrol really sets a good tone on campus and encourages the students to know that they themselves have an active role in making sure that this this community has a good character and is ordered well.”
For her part, Logie has decided to redefine her role as a Patrol worker. When she began Patrol, she “was really timid and was going to follow other people’s leads as to how you be Patrol and what that means and where your authority lies.” Now, three semesters on the job later, she has come to disagree with the system more often than not and follows her own instincts as to how to conduct her Patrol duties.
“I realize that I’m sort of indicting the system and I don’t mean it to be a personal attack on anyone,” says Logie. “I just think there are real problems that should be addressed and maybe they should be addressed publicly.”

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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