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Colleges now charged for waste cleanup instead of security at publics

Ndidi Nwosu / Thresher

By Maria Morkas     9/12/23 11:57pm

The Rice University Police Department will no longer charge residential colleges for the security they provide during publics. Instead, residential colleges must now hire at least two Housing and Dining custodial staff to clean up biohazardous waste afterwards.

Chief of Police Clemente Rodriguez said the decision to pay officers through one centralized campus event fund is part of an effort to streamline budgets.

“This new method of managing security on campus improves safety by allowing RUPD to ensure the appropriate staffing levels are in place without burdening event planners who may have budget constraints for their events,” Rodriguez wrote in an email to the Thresher.

Rodriguez said he was worried about inconsistencies in security at public events on campus, so this was one of his top priorities for this year’s budget request.

“This change will allow us to better serve campus and ensure safety and security at all public events,” Rodriguez wrote. “The President, Provost and Vice President of Administration and Finance decided to provide funding for this change as one way to demonstrate their support of RUPD and safety and security at Rice.”

Jones College Chief Justice Jacob Lowenstein said that due to salary variations among RUPD officers, colleges wouldn’t know their final charge until after the public.

“At least with the custodial staff now, it’s a fixed rate so we know ahead of time, and it’s better for budgeting,” Lowenstein said.

Milan George, a socials head at Duncan College, said that eliminating RUPD costs will decrease the financial burden on college socials committees. 

“A lot of the costs for publics were primarily [for] RUPD and [Rice EMS],” George, a junior, said. “I’m glad that the undergraduate dean is prioritizing having a [fund] set up outside of the college budget so that we can afford to keep publics safe.” 

Will Rice College President Gazi Fuad said funds previously allocated to security could instead be used for other costs. According to Fuad, colleges were instructed to hire at least two, but up to four, specialized H&D custodial staff for each public.

“For two of the custodians, it [will] cost a flat fee of $500, and then for four, it [will cost] $1,000,” Fuad, a senior, said. “It ends up being a net benefit for the colleges, so we’re pretty happy about that. It also takes away an unnecessary workload away from CJs and caregivers at publics because it shouldn’t be their responsibility to clean up that waste.”

Lowenstein said Petre Herbert, the associate director of campus events, informed colleges that the amount of cleaning staff required would be determined based on the proximity of bathrooms.

“If the bathrooms are in the same area as the main venue, then we only need two cleaners, but if they’re in a separate building or a separate area, then we’ll have to have four cleaners,” Lowenstein said.

Fuad said that the budget allocated to Will Rice socials has generally stayed the same from last year, as the amount of funding received from the dean’s office hasn’t changed.  

“We haven’t gotten too into the planning process yet, but I’m assuming the extra money that we’re able to salvage we’ll be spending on stuff like … potentially paying our DJs a bit more, getting more decorations and having food and drink available as needed,” Fuad said.

George also said that although the Duncan social committee still needs to discuss potential changes, he would like to improve the decorations and atmosphere if the budget allows.

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