A few minutes after clocking into her shift, Destiny James heard the blare of a fire alarm. Frantically, she pulled out the University of Miami security assistant manual and examined the protocols that she needed to follow.
“I was nervous and afraid that I would miss a step of the protocol because of the pressure I was under,” said James, a senior majoring in public health and a security assistant. “I began making necessary phone calls and talking myself through the steps. Experiencing my first fire alarm as a security assistant helped me build more responsibility and learn the importance of the job.”
Security assistants are responsible for maintaining housing security at night between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. A crucial resource to Housing and Residential Life, security assistants verify the residency of all students entering the residential colleges. They also check in guests, monitor the doors and fire alarm panels, respond to emergency situations and keep accurate documentation of any incidents that occur during the night.
Security assistants also work in conjunction with the security supervisors, security coordinators, residential life safety and security manager and assistant director of residential life safety and security. Such high-level coordination prioritizes the well-being and security of residential students and staff.
“Security assistants are role models, ” James said. “When we are dressed in our polos, we represent an import part of HRL. I feel that we help foster a comfortable space for students. Even outside of my shifts, students have come up to me and greeted me warmly because of the work that they’ve seen me do at night as a security assistant.”
The vision of HRL is creating “student housing for student success,” said Ronald Wabomnor, the head of housing and security at UM. Wabomnor said safety is at the core of this mission.
“The security assistants support this vision by serving as the eyes and ears of campus at night, contributing to the safety of our residents, guests and staff,” he said.
The HRL security department is beginning its hiring process for the security assistant job. The position is geared towards undergraduate and graduate students who possess strong functional skills in organization, administration and communication. As one of the few jobs on campus that pay students above the minimum wage, offering an hourly pay of $11.50, the security assistant position is highly sought after. For the spring term, there were over 100 applicants and less than 20 were ultimately hired.
“It really is the perfect job,” said Munkelwitz. “To go to work all I do is go down the elevator and my post is right there. This job also allowed me to meet new people from many backgrounds. I am able to interact with many students and foster new connections.”
The security assistants’ shifts are typically from 9:45 p.m. to 3 a.m. or 2:45 a.m. to 8 a.m. Despite this late-night responsibility, Munkelwitz said his sleep schedule hasn’t been affected negatively since becoming a security assistant.
“It’s important to take naps during the day, and we are also allowed to do our homework during our shifts, which helps a lot,” he said.
Prior to each semester, security assistants go through an intensive week-long training session to thoroughly prepare them for the responsibilities that come with the job. The training includes mastering topics such as customer service, standard policies and procedures, fire response, critical response, working with UMPD, crisis response and Title IX training and documentation.
These training sessions are all held at night during the normal time of the security assistants’ shifts to help them become acquainted with the job’s hours and environment.
“One of the training sessions that occurred was called ‘A Night in the Life,’ and we were put in real life scenarios with the supervisors as actors,” said Munkelwitz. “That’s when I learned the vital role that this job truly plays.”
“I have gained emergency management skills and customer service skills,” James said. “This job teachers you to think on your feet in times of crisis and to remain calm so we can carry out necessary procedures.”
Applications to become a security assistant for the 2019 fall semester are now available and must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 17. Applicants are also welcome to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Wabomnor said he is “looking for candidates that take pride in helping others, have the ability to communicate with peers and professional staff and most importantly, share the same love and joy our team has in calling ourselves Canes.”