Kelsey Donk Arts and Entertainment Editor
Security Officer Phyllis Marsh left the office at 12 p.m. last Wednesday, stepped into her patrol car and started checking dormitory windows for screens and campus building for suspicious people.
“It’s a beautiful day,” she said, with a wave at students walking by.
Marsh patrols campus as often as she can.
“You can’t keep me in that office,” she said. “I’m sort of a street kid at heart.”
Marsh has been guarding the Kalamazoo College campus with the other security officers for almost five years. Before she took her campus security post, Marsh worked with a private security company, Charles Service, for 13 years. When she became bored of training private security officers, she joined Neighborhood Watch on West Main Hill. Because she lives near campus, Marsh said working at K is perfect for her; she can patrol the neighborhood and patrol campus at the same time.
“I’m good at what I do,” Marsh said.
She said she’s stayed in the security business for a long time because she cares about people. “I don’t like to see people become victims,” she said.
When Marsh patrols campus, she drives the security car around slowly and takes care to check every building. She pulls into the back parking lot of Trowbridge and makes sure all the screens are in the ground-level windows. If a screen is gone, she said she gets out of the car to see if the window is locked. If it’s unlocked, she goes into the dormitory and locks the window. Then she goes to the next building.
Marsh does a lot of driving. She parks by Facilities Management and pokes around behind a shed where she said homeless men sometimes stay. She tries not to take the same route on each round in case someone’s watching her. According to Marsh, she shoos suspicious people from campus at least two or three times every week, but she’s made it her mission to banish who she calls juvenile delinquents away for good.
“There are little tricks,” Marsh said. “A lot of it is just the way you handle yourself.”
Between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. last Wednesday, Marsh didn’t find anyone to scare away. At about 1:20 p.m., she finally found someone digging in a dumpster for bottles and cans.
When Marsh finds a person who shouldn’t be on campus, she takes action immediately. In the face of suspicious people, “being afraid is not an option,” Marsh said. “If you back down, this campus is theirs.”
Once, she found a man trying to break into Trowbridge. When he saw her coming, he grabbed onto a nearby bicycle. Marsh reached for one side and he pulled on the other.
“We had a little tug-of-war,” Marsh said. “People think I’m little, but I’m tough.”
Marsh works alone on campus every weekend. According to Marsh, the other security officers don’t like working on the weekends, but she loves those shifts. Her weekends are Thursdays and Fridays instead of Saturdays and Sundays. Marsh said she knows which cars belong to which professors and she tries to make sure they stay safe when no one else is in campus buildings.
“On weekends, there isn’t anyone I don’t know about,” she said.
Fall is Marsh’s favorite season at K. She said it’s hard to patrol in the winter and she gets bored when students aren’t around in the summer. She gets excited when the students move back into the dorms.
“I’m so happy when they come back here, I could hug them all,” Marsh said.
She notices students on her frequent patrols and she said she loves to watch them blossom in their four years at K.
“I’ll even tear up at graduation,” Marsh said, “That’s the best part of the job—oh and catching bad people.”