University quietly cuts desk attendant hours

Lawrence Hall desk attendant hours cut short

Written By Andrew Brinker, Co-News Editor

Point Park has announced a new change in building security, specifically in Lawrence, Thayer and Academic Halls.

Over winter break Point Park University administration addressed an email to all students, faculty and staff entitled “Change in After Hour Entry Procedures – Spring 2019.”

The email detailed a comprehensive overhaul of nighttime access to three of campus’ highest traffic buildings. Instead of being able to access each of the different halls individually, the email explained that starting in the spring 2019 semester anyone needing into Lawrence, Academic or Thayer Hall after 10 p.m. would be required to go through Lawrence Hall.

“Efficiency is a big part of it,” Keith Paylo, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students said. “Having two locations, when you think about it, became an idea that we talked about as a small group that we believed wasn’t necessary any longer. We could have a better control factor if we did it through one location.”

In the name of efficiency, Thayer and Academic Halls will now be locked at 10 p.m., barring student access from the outside.

Paylo stressed that this new shift in the University’s security focus was most importantly a move that he felt would benefit the safety of students but acknowledged that finances did play a role in the decision.

“Efficiency means a lot of different things,” Paylo said. “Efficiency in a sense of staffing, efficiency as far as security, efficiency as part of the safety of students – it all plays a role in this decision.”

However, what the administration did not explicitly mention in their Jan. 3 email was that along with the change in nighttime access to the University came a cut to Lawrence Hall desk attendant hours.

Jeffrey Besong, Assistant Vice President and Chief of the Point Park Police Department told The Globe in an email that desk attendant hours in Lawrence Hall for the spring semester were changed from the fall semester’s hours of 6 p.m. through 6 a.m., to 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. – a four-hour cutback that leaves Lawrence Hall open to outsiders before 10 p.m. as they will no longer be forced to pass by human security.

Student Affairs’ email to students, faculty and staff avoided specifically mentioning this key aspect of the new policy. The message said, “From the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. all individuals needing access to Academic, Thayer and Lawrence Halls will enter through Lawrence Hall lobby. A desk attendant will be in place at this Lawrence Hall location and will be checking ID’s for access to these three buildings.”

But nowhere is there mention that before 10 p.m. there will no longer be a desk attendant in Lawrence Hall.

The administration has yet to comment on the change in desk attendant hours.

This is not the first time that security has been an issue in the 2018-2019 school year. In early October, The Globe ran a story entitled “Security presence spotty across campus,” that brought attention to inconsistent security amongst Point Park’s student facilities.

Additionally, former desk attendant Tom Hardin was transferred to another facility following the publication of an article in the Globe regarding security on campus in which Hardin was interviewed.

Now the question of student safety looms again.

This school year marked the opening of Point Park’s new Pittsburgh Playhouse – a $60 million venture, while September 2016 saw the opening of the Center for Media Innovation, which cost the University a much smaller but still significant price of $2.5 million, according to the Point Park website.

While what is spent on desk attendants and security is not abundantly clear, it would appear that the amount is dwarfed by the University’s investments in expanding campus, a potential statement about their priorities.

Ultimately, some students feel that the cut in desk attendant hours has made safety a secondhand priority.

“I definitely don’t feel too comfortable without somebody [a desk attendant] around when it’s dark out,” Alex Frank, a freshman transfer PR and Advertising major said. “There’s some weirdos out there at night. This is Pittsburgh.”

Frank additionally noted that she thought the previous hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. would be a significant improvement.

“I think that having a person there earlier would be better. I feel like it’s too easy to get into the building [Lawrence Hall] at night if nobody is there,” she said.