Luther College Chips

Luther security needs a female officer

Grace Onsrud, Staff Writer

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“Gender diversity on the security staff, and racial diversity as well, is a step towards making more students feel safe on campus.”

-Grace Onrud (‘19)

Since last Sunday, when symbols of racial hatred were stomped onto Luther’s football field, I have had and overheard many conversations about safety on Luther’s campus for all students and what can be done to improve it. In the midst of one of these conversations, a friend pointed out that there are no women on Luther’s Safety and Security staff.

I was surprised that I had never considered more deeply the reasons for this disparity. That might come from my own internalized assumptions about what someone who works in a security-related job is supposed to be like — specifically, the assumption that security-related work is masculine.

Luther is not the only place with a gender disparity in security staff. Part of the reason why Luther does not have a woman on the security staff is probably because there are fewer women going into this field. I found the category, “Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers” on a list titled Nontraditional Occupations for Women in 2009 by the United States Department of Labor. This list stated that of all the people employed in this type of profession in the United States in 2009, only 22 percent were women.

There is no reason why a woman cannot do this job as well as a man. And besides simply being adequate, a female staff member might actually improve the effectiveness of security staff on a college campus. The current Luther Security officers are extremely competent at what they do. They are good, caring, and trustworthy people, and I am thankful for all the work they do on a daily basis to make our campus a safe place.

Yet despite all of this, during the two years I have spent at Luther, I have heard many women express reluctance at the idea that they should call on Luther security in a situation where they or a friend are intoxicated, alone, or in any other sort of vulnerable situation. I do not believe that this has anything to do with the security officers themselves, but more to do with a general discomfort that some women have, for a variety of reasons, with calling for assistance from a man in a position of authority whom they do not know very well.

We are also told to call security as responders after situations of sexual assault and some people may feel more comfortable talking to a woman in that situation.

It is unfortunate that any student should feel nervous about asking for help from the very people who are working to keep us safe. Gender diversity on the security staff, and racial diversity as well, is a step towards making more students feel safe on campus.

At this time especially many students do not feel safe. Luther students, faculty, and staff have had some beneficial, fruitful discussions in the past week on how we might improve that.

If Luther decides that hiring another security officer is a part of that improvement, I would encourage them to consider diversifying the safety and security staff.

Signed,

Grace Onsrud (‘19)

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