Connect with us

All Articles

BREAKING: Student Safety Aides Swipe Out

sfsfFollowing the Virginia Tech shootings, Public Safety has announced that all Student Aides, who help man dorm security desks, are to be replaced with regular security guards for the rest of the semester. In an email sent today by Student Aide Coordinator Andrew Ness (provided after the jump), students who work at the desks were told to pick up their paychecks and not to report for duty again.

Some who wrote to Bwog questioned the move, especially because students were invited to apply again for the same positions when Fall semester came around. “They did not provide a correlation between the shootings and exactly why we should lose our jobs,” said one of the students affected. “It’s only bad if we’re randomly killed now, but not in September?”

Bwog posed this question to Mr. Ness, who wrote that he was not at liberty to discuss Public Safety’s plans in further detail. He simply confirmed that, following “the events at Virginia Tech[,] the University is reexamining its security policies to ensure the continued safety of the University community and to maintain our position as the safest Ivy League School.”

UPDATE, Wednesday, 11:12 AM: Assistant VP for Strategic Communications and Planning Rosemary Keane assures us that no students will lose their jobs–all will be reassigned to jobs in Housing and Dining.


Dear Student Aides,

I have some unfortunate news to pass along to all of you. In the wake of

the Virginia Tech shootings, University Officials have decided that

effective immediately, student aides will *NOT* be working in the

dormitories for the remainder of the year, including reading week and

finals period. I repeat, your work commitment to Public Safety for this

semester ends today (4/17). From this point on the dormitories will be

filled with Public Safety Security Officers. My apologies for the late

notice and I regret any trouble this may cause you.

You have a paycheck available this Friday April 20, and hours from

yesterday and today will be reflected on the paycheck available Friday

May 4.

Thank you all for your diligence and hard work this semester. You’re [sic]

work greatly benefits the University. I would encourage all of you to

reapply this upcoming fall. Thanks again, and if you have any questions,

don’t hesitate to email me.


Andrew Ness

Student Aide Coordinator

Public Safety, Columbia University

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published.



  • alma says:

    @alma To be fair, after a huge tragedy like this there’s a greater chance of copycat crimes being committed soon after.

    Are the guards here armed? I think it would make sense that they want to have only guards if they were armed.

  • mater says:

    @mater I don’t think they should use student aides at all. Students who sit there reading a book or watching youtube just aren’t capable of more than swiping cards. the job isn’t about swiping cards; it’s about keeping an eye on the building.

  • nope says:

    @nope they’re not armed (for the best in my opinion) but i hear they carry tasers? there were a couple comments/posts about guards and tasers a while back so im sure someone can or will clarify.
    besides, vatech has a police department on campus and this happened so arming guards doesn’t necessarily mean much. half the times the guards are dozing off when im pulling my id out of my pocket, so having a gun could be ineffective anyway. (im not criticizing guards mind you, while obviously they should always be alert i can understand their position)

    1. alma says:

      @alma i see what you mean, but i guess at this stage they don’t want to put students at risk. it’s a huge liability. you’re right to question the effectiveness of guards, however.

      this shooting is a clear example that every school needs to revisit their emergency plans.

  • good move says:

    @good move Hopefully Columbia will place these students in other jobs. A lot of them do this for work-study. In any case, I prefer a real security guard to a student doing homework. And that’s some picture, bwog.

    1. alma says:

      @alma does anyone know how many students are aides? i think it would be really good if they could be placed in other work-study positions, and there are definitely a lot out there. but i really have no idea how many student aides there are.

    2. photo? says:

      @photo? The magnetic swipe strip is on the same side as the bar code…

  • the guards says:

    @the guards are as good as NOT THERE. they sleep, or at any rate they don’t pay attention. let’s not forget that famous quote, cited here i think, from a guard who said that if he sees something, he just looks away: ‘that’s just one more thing i have to write in my book,’ he said. i believe it. the guards also don’t know how to alphabetize, given how they misfile guest’s id cards all the time. so aside from replacing students with men, they should make sure those men are not dolts.

  • man says:

    @man would you pay attention if you were working security on an eight hour shift with no breaks when there were never any security threats?

    1. .... says:


      if they dont like it, they can go find another one.

      1. yes says:

        @yes thats easy. particularly when, like most of the Columbia guards, you’re a person of color from upper Manhattan or the Bronx. the unemployment rate is so low…

        VA Tech shooting or not, i could do with less security at this school. it’d be nice to be able to exit the campus somewhere north of 116th street on weekends. i’ll accept whatever miniscule increase in the risk of a shooting, which is orders of magnitude less than the risk of dying in a car accident, in exchange for the freedom of movement.

        1. did you says:

          @did you miss the brutal rape of the j-school student? guns aren’t the only threat on campus.

          1. yellow says:

            @yellow the j-school incident wasn’t on campus

      2. volut says:

        @volut whatever. having a security guard at the desk makes the building only marginally safer. scares away the creeps, which deserves a mention, but it’s really just something to tell parents on campus tours.

        i don’t blame them if their hearts aren’t in it. it’s monotonous as hell, and on weekends they eke out their living by watching drunk laughing rich kids run around enjoying themselves.

    2. that's says:

      @that's probably what the guards were saying to each other at va. tech yesterday morning.

  • pfff says:

    @pfff a) be nice to the guards, you’ll be better for it.
    b) no, the security guards do NOT carry tasers.

  • DUDE says:

    @DUDE I really hope the university decides to pay the students even if they can’t re-assign them new jobs. Some of those students need the work-study money.

  • HA! HA! guy says:

    @HA! HA! guy Right…because security guard’s are expendable, right?

    A billy club or nightstick is certainly going to be more effective against some nutcase with a .22 or 9 mm handgun.

  • wien? says:

    @wien? I wonder if this was prompted by the wien incident as well? does anyone with details about that want to come forward to bwog?

  • come on says:

    @come on it seems pretty obvious that this is a knee-jerk response that doesn’t have much to do with rational considerations. security guards are probably better than student aides at making you sign in your friends, but both would be pretty inadequate protections against a gunman on a killing spree.

    it’s not like this particular shooting has revealed a previously-hidden flaw in security. it just makes people nervous and afraid. posting more security guards is supposed to make people less nervous and afraid.

    1. ehh says:

      @ehh one would hope a university would care at least a bit about “rational considerations”. we’ll leave knee-jerk responses to nervous, trigger-happy presidents.

    2. 0.02 dollars says:

      @0.02 dollars I believe it’s supposed to be a more symbolic picture. It’s a bad swipe. It makes a bad sound when it happens. Nobody likes it.

      To me, this whole situation is just a classic example of fear politics. Use a legitimate concern to justify a not-so-legit decision, then hope that because everyone’s a little afraid, nobody will say anything against it.

      I’m sorry for the aids:
      1)they weren’t given even a one day’s notice.
      2)they weren’t given any options on how to finish off the semester
      3)some of them would have made as much as $450 dollars from now until they leave for summer, and on a tight budget, that’s a lot.

      Also, what is our campus wide emergency plan?
      1: how do they notify every student immediately that something has to happen?
      2: where do you evacuate if need be?
      3: how do you do so such that you don’t get the entire campus in one open field and hence defeat the point of the evacuation?

  • Some guards says:

    @Some guards are mad cool. I’ve seen them watching “Old School” and other movies with excessive violence and/or lotsa sexytime. Lotsa sexytime, ain’t that what it’s all about kids?

  • Sigh... says:

    @Sigh... This is ridiculous. It’s exactly the sort of paranoid move which is going to scare people more and make us all miserable on campus. The chances of a copycat incident are extremely slim. Heck, the chances of a University campus being shot up in the first place are ridiculously slim in the first place – part of the reason we’re all so shocked. The VT shootings are a sobering wakeup call, not something which will inspire depressed college kids across the country to kill more people. This is just for show, and it promotes paranoia at Columbia which is just about the worst thing we can do at the moment.

    1. alma says:

      @alma You make way too many assumptions. I’m sorry, but the chances still exist.
      And unless you’re some sort of medical expert, I don’t think you can say it won’t inspire depressed kids. Actually, I wouldn’t buy that even if you were.

      It’s people like you who don’t think bad things will happen to them so they don’t report anything suspicious, or don’t care enough to contact someone when a person has been clearly depressed and solitary for years.
      You know most people who commit suicide usually tell someone before or at least suggest it?

      I’m sorry, I’m angry. I’m from Virginia.

  • Enrollment Deposit says:

    @Enrollment Deposit The deadline for enrollment deposits has not yet passed. We’re in Days on Campus season. This is about numbers and stats. We had a banner year in terms of selectivity, but if we don’t follow up with a non-terrible yield, our precious USNWR ranking will drop. With this gesture, the University is trying to assuage the concerns of the class of ’11 parents.

    The University won’t spend more money than it has to, though, so look for that cheap and plentiful student labor to once again replace the expensive, overtime-earning, unionized security guards come late August, when the tuition checks are safely in the bank.

    1. totally true says:

      @totally true I think this is right. Now let’s be nice to the prefroshes at the end of this week.

  • they're right says:

    @they're right look at the graphic. the student aide is clearly not even swiping the magstripe part of the card through the reader! That aide was a huge security hole in the otherwise fortress-like defense that is Columbia! Good riddance

  • ... says:

    @... i expect an editorial in the spec tomorrow demanding that the university at least pay these kids that depend on this money. it’s really not their fault.

  • Matthew Harrison says:

    @Matthew Harrison The affected students will be reassigned to positions within Housing and Dining. No one will be made “unemployed” by this.

  • Have Your Say

    What should Bwog's new tagline be?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

    Popular This Week

    Sorry. No data so far.

    Recent Comments

    Friedman labeled the Public Safety Dept as “racist” for the incident of April 2019. Good riddance!! (read more)
    Dean Natalie Friedman To Leave Barnard
    May 27, 2020
    Ah, yes. Cornell University. Ah, yes yes. Such wonderful trees. You have done it again, BOGW. (read more)
    How To Relive Columbia Arbor Day At Home
    May 27, 2020
    Can you prove that (read more)
    Fake It Till You Make It
    May 25, 2020
    And after she was treated soooo well by Barnard too ;) Lucky POSSE. (read more)
    Dean Natalie Friedman To Leave Barnard
    May 25, 2020

    Comment Policy

    The purpose of Bwog’s comment section is to facilitate honest and open discussion between members of the Columbia community. We encourage commenters to take advantage of—without abusing—the opportunity to engage in anonymous critical dialogue with other community members. A comment may be moderated if it contains:
    • A slur—defined as a pejorative derogatory phrase—based on ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or spiritual belief
    • Hate speech
    • Unauthorized use of a person’s identity
    • Personal information about an individual
    • Baseless personal attacks on specific individuals
    • Spam or self-promotion
    • Copyright infringement
    • Libel