Public Safety Aides no longer funded by SA

The Public Safety Aides, student employees that patrol campus on weekends and at special events to provide extra security, will officially be defunded by the Student Association as of the end of the academic year.

"It's a program that's been on and off for the last couple years," said senior Meghan Pipe, SA director of academic affairs. "It was a lot of money out of the [SA] budget."

Funding used to pay the PSAs has been provided by SA but will be eliminated going forward.

"I can see both sides very clearly," said senior Mary Bock, SA director of interresidence affairs. "It wasn't a decision that was made lightly."

"It was possibly the longest discussion we've ever had," said junior Kevin Friedman, a member of the SA Budget Review Committee.

The PSA budget has been decreased steadily over the years and SA "would have needed to sink a lot more money into it to bring [the quality of the program] up to where it should be," Bock said.

In May 2010, SA funding of the PSA program was scrutinized and the 2009-2010 SA executive board agreed to fund the program for the 2010-2011 year with the condition that it would be reviewed for improvements made during the year.

"We just didn't see enough improvements," Friedman said.

Many PSA employees maintain that if there's been a decrease in the efficacy of the program, it is related to reductions in the program's budget.

"The whole idea of PSA came from students protecting students," said senior and PSA employee Phara Souffrant. In the past, PSAs  have used golf carts and bicycles to patrol campus seven nights a week and escorted students who felt unsafe returning to their residence halls alone. Because of the budget reductions, PSA has had to patrol on foot and reduce its coverage to weekends exclusively in recent years.

"[The budget cuts] hindered our helpfulness," said junior PSA captain Joe Matina. "Now I think we're just seen as bad guys."

PSA made changes this year in response to concerns raised in May 2010. University Police officer Scott Ewanow took over as PSA advisor and, according to Souffrant, Ewanow's leadership has increased the transparency between UP and PSA.

"As far as being an employee, I felt more informed," Souffrant said.

PSA employees were able to receive training and communicate with officers more than ever before once Ewanow became the group's advisor.

By patrolling campus, PSAs were able to offer students assistance without involving UP.

"We don't try to get people in trouble, we just try to help," Matina said.

Matina said that the group would need approximately $15,000 to operate next year and that he doubts that PSA can continue without SA funding.

"[PSA employees are] paid because most students wouldn't do this job," he said. "It's tough hours; you have to give up your weekends."

"[SA's] missing out on a good thing," Souffrant said. "I keep coming back each semester … It's a job we feel good about."