It’s dinner time at the UC. Students are filing in and out with their brown paper sacks and drinks in hand, enjoying a socially distanced meal with their friends, or studying last minute for an exam the next day. Another common sight in the midst of the hustle and bustle of college life is Campus Public Safety Officer, Jeff Carr, sharing friendly conversations with various students throughout the night.
Officer Carr started working with CPS at Pacific in 2016, and he continues to share his love for his job and the students every day. After working in downtown life, the local zoo, and a corporate office, Carr found his way back to public safety with his role at Pacific. Having been involved in security and public safety for a long time, Carr can confidently say that he loves his job because of the hours and the opportunities it gives him to help people.
“I hadn’t worked on a college campus before, so it was something that I wanted to try,” Carr said. “I have completely found something I love and I can see my being here for a very long time.”
Working the swing shifts from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday through Wednesday, Carr has a vital presence on campus that many students value in their day to day routines. His favorite part about his job is being able to walk through the UC or Scott Hall to see students studying late at night, especially during midterms and finals. He loves to be able to chat with students about their projects and follow up with their progress, as well as hand out Smarties to those who are working late. Carr places such high emphasis on building relationships with his students because he wants to get to know the people who are embedded within Pacifc’s community.
“It’s rewarding to me to see the students working hard, accomplishing things, and seeing them end up leaving, whether they head off to graduate school or whatever,” Carr said. “Students are the blood of the place. Without the students, there’s no university. They’re the ones that drive the campus and what happens on campus.”
He strives to make his first interaction with students one in passing, checking in while studying, or simply saying hello. He would rather have students’ first interaction to be in a friendly situation, rather than when he has to come knocking because of a noise complaint or something more serious.
“It’s a happier place to be if you get to know the people you’re interacting with,” Carr said.
He feels that all of the CPS officers at Pacific work hard to ensure the safety of the students around the clock.
“We come from varied backgrounds with a wide array of experiences that all come together to form a pretty great team. Each officer has strengths that play a role for a well-rounded department,” Carr said.
As with many other aspects of life on campus, COVID-19 has impacted his ability to connect with students in a variety of ways. The primary difference has been in the spaces he tends to interact with students in, like the UC.
Because big study groups are not able to gather anymore and he can’t walk into sports games with stands full of students, it’s been tougher to make those connections. COVID protocols restrict him from handing out his usual Smarties, and he wasn’t able to connect with the freshman class because orientation was so impersonal. He was unable to see the commencement of the 2020 graduating class—the first class he had been able to serve for four years. The masks have also made it difficult for him to judge students’ emotions when he’s walking through the UC or recognize a familiar face.
“That immediate ease of connection because of all the students being in one area is something that’s been missing,” Carr said. “For me personally, it’s been a boring, rough path since COVID because I don’t have that connection, and the rewarding part of my job was less existent.”
Like everyone else, Carr is ready for things to get back to normal so that he can continue developing relationships with students on campus. — Chandler Fleming
Photo: Jeff Carr (Chandler Fleming)