Students are fighting to lower the required University Police Department presence at events, which could save student groups at least $80 per event.
Aria Varasteh, the Student Association’s vice president of student activities, said the cost of hiring an officer for an event is “inhibiting,” particularly for groups holding small fundraisers that bring in less than $80.
Although UPD charges a flat fee of $160 per officer, groups split the fee with University scheduling if just one officer is stationed at an event. If the Marvin Center event planners decide more than one officer is required, groups must pay $160 for each additional officer.
University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said the $160 fee, which has been in place for more than a decade, stems from the police union’s collective bargaining agreement that requires officers to be paid that amount, which covers a minimum of four hours for overtime assignment.
Per the policy, an officer must be on scene whenever alcohol is sold, as well as at events where money – more than $5 in the Marvin Center and more than $1 outdoors – changes hands. Officers are also required at events with more than 100 people.
Varasteh and Marvin Center Governing Board chair Dylan Pyne met with UPD captain Michael Glaubach last week and, after learning the fee is non-negotiable, decided to focus on narrowing the scope of events that require a police presence.
Because few events last more than two hours, Pyne hopes to create a scheduling system that enables student organizations with back-to-back events to split the cost of an officer, bringing the fee down to $40 per group for one officer.
“Ideally, students organizations should pay for the length of time the event is expected to last,” Pyne said. “At least, a two-hour minimum would be far more appropriate.”
Associate Dean of Students Tim Miller said the parameters for requiring an officer were created by the Marvin Center and Student Activities Center staff.
Varasteh said it is not uncommon for groups to hike prices of tickets or other items for sale to cover the cost of the officer, he said. Some organizations also keep prices to below $5 for events in the Marvin Center to avoid the officer fee.
For most groups, “even though theft is a concern, it’s not as big of a concern as revenue,” Varasteh said. He added that theft is not a concern at indoor events when executive board members are constantly keeping an eye on sales.