New Campus Safety Director Mark Welker has been at Knox since July, evaluating the needs of the campus. While he is still learning about the campus and students, he has some ideas for his department in mind.
According to Welker, there have been times when only one Campus Safety officer was on duty.
“Right now it’s just a matter of staffing and trying to cover round the clock, 24/7. We have just hired another Campus Safety officer who is in training. Hopefully, as I can refill some vacant positions that will no longer be a problem,” Welker said.
At the Student Life Committee meeting on Tuesday, Welker said that he hopes to eventually hire enough officers so that there will be a minimum of two officers on duty at a time. He was unsure of how long it would take to achieve this goal.
He noted that much of the staff under former Campus Safety Director John Schlaf worked part-time. Welker said that he hopes to create more full-time positions in the department while keeping these changes as “budget neutral” as possible.
Welker says the problem of understaffing could still be an issue even after vacancies have been filled.
“It won’t be at the busiest times,” he said.
Unregistered parties have also been on the radar of Campus Safety, according to Welker. He said that the department usually does not patrol the campus looking for them, but becomes aware of them through complaints from other members of campus.
“Campus Safety doesn’t typically patrol the campus in search of unregistered parties. We are aware that they are current. What happens is something brings attention to that party Ñ whether it be noise or a disturbance.”
Welker has worked in Campus Safety for several different colleges for 30 years. Most recently, he was at Eastern Kentucky University. He doesn’t consider to have made changes yet.
“We’re all just getting geared up again and getting into the rhythm of things.”
Sophomore Atithya Ghai, a resident advisor for freshman suite Conger-Neal, said she has not noticed major changes coming from the Campus Safety department so far.
She said that fraternity parties during the beginning of the year are aimed at the incoming freshmen, but that the feel of the party is usually “chill and not too bad.” Because this is only her second year on campus, she says she cannot tell whether Campus Safety has increased its activity so far this year.
Before he makes any major changes, Welker said he wants to get used to the community.
“I’ve been learning a lot of names and faces. My job right now is just to observe, take notes and research for both the Knox and Galesburg community.”
Vice President of Student Senate and junior Tevin Liao said he hasn’t noticed changes yet within the Campus Safety department.
“It’s too early to tell and there needs to be more time to consider,” he said.
News Editor Rachel Landman contributed to this report.