UBC to hire new director of safety and security after external review

UBC is nearing the end of the hiring process for a managing director of campus safety and security to replace the previous role of director of Campus Security, which was left vacant when former director Barry Eccleton transferred to UBC Athletics last semester.

The role of director was “re-designed” as a result of recommendations made by an external review of UBC Campus Security, which was conducted last April. The job will now be “a more strategic, senior-level position,” according to Debbie Harvie, managing director of university community services at UBC.

“The position has evolved to connect security and safety in a more strategic way,” said Harvie in an interview with The Ubyssey. “Historically, security has been quite reactive as opposed to proactive and I think we’re looking for this new role to strategize how we approach student safety.”

The report specifically called for the creation of a role that “would be the face and the voice of community safety for UBC.” With the addition of “safety” to the position title, AMS President Ava Nasiri hopes that the role will focus on “engaging both the students and the community [in matters of student safety] as opposed to taking a stance of policing the campus.”

“Security is more about direct threat to your well-being, whereas safety is more on the emotional side of whether or not you feel safe on campus,” said Nasiri. “It’s absolutely critical for the individual in this role to be able to live up to both of those contexts and understand the difference between those definitions.”

As for a student voice, Nasiri was “very pleased” that the AMS was invited to consult on behalf of students throughout the process.

“The AMS was thoroughly consulted in terms of what we would like to see in the new role and the university has been very upstanding with honouring the perspectives that we had,” said Nasiri. “I think that this new role fits in quite well with the recommendations of the external review.”

In addition to streamlining safety protocols between the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, the new managing director will report directly to VP Students Louise Cowin instead of remaining under the department of university community services. This change is intended to give campus security more room to advocate directly for the safety needs of students whilst streamlining the chain of command.

“We’re looking for this new role to strategize with students around which programs and services we need to implement, so that students feel secure while they’re on our campus,” said Harvie.

Harvie is aiming to announce the chosen candidate in the “next few weeks,” adhering to the target hiring date of early 2017. She stressed the importance of taking the time and care to find the right individual for the role.

“It’s a really good move for us to be doing at this time in our history,” said Harvie. “We’re creating a position that is going to be able to address UBC’s needs today and into the future.”