The Spiritual Formation Department (SFD) and Campus Safety have switched office spaces, as was announced in an email by the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs on Friday, March 8. SFD are moving to Needham Courtyard and Campus Safety are relocating to the first floor of Laguna Hall.
The email informed students the move will begin the following Monday, March 11, and be completed by the next morning.
The quick turnaround was surprising even to the parties involved, as Campus Pastor Mike Whitford thought the move was a possibility over the summer months. Though surprising, he was excited to hear that SFD would be relocating to Needham Courtyard, as it allowed a more communal space that suited the department’s needs.
For Campus Safety as well, the move to Laguna Hall gave the expanded space the department needed. The development of a multi-year campus safety plan–which will involves increased lighting, access control, fire alarms, community service officers, surveillance cameras and more–means the department is regularly meeting with vendors, requiring more room. Additionally, Director of Campus Safety Kenton Ferrin said the offices next to Needham Courtyard were much too small and did not allow for the privacy they required.
“My assistant director was basically in a closet,” Ferrin said. “It wasn’t functional for us.”
As for student concerns about safety with the decentralization of the Campus Safety offices, Ferrin explained that while there is a physical change in the main location, he does not expect students to notice a difference in the service they believe. Because of the constant patrols by Campus Safety, how long it will take an officer to reach students in need is always fluctuating and is not necessarily determined by where the office is located. In fact, when students visit the office, they are usually greeted by a student worker.
“The perception is that they’re always in the middle, that there’s always someone there. That’s just not true,” Ferrin said.
Additionally, Ferrin is confident from his conversations with parents that it will ease the minds of families who are sending their daughters away to school for the first time when they know that Campus Safety is located in the same building. Ferrin sees the move as a positive that allows the team to be closer to the dorms while also not changing access to campus.
“I think that’s a huge win for us as a university as well. That we’re responsive,” Ferrin said.
With the construction on campus, Ferrin is aware students may have concerns about accessibility and response time of Campus Safety. Ferrin pointed out that there would always be a lack of access to parts of campus with construction, but he would not let it stop him from reaching someone in need.
“I would just knock down the fencing,” Ferrin said.
In fact, as construction develops, Ferrin could still not imagine any circumstance that would stop him from getting where he needed to be on campus.
“Any part of the construction could be a challenge for us, but none of it would stop us from going anywhere,” Ferrin said. “If the whole gymnasium building fell down, I would just go around it the other way.”
Though student concern is understandable, administration assessed the change in overall safety with the move in location, according to Whitford. Ferrin explained his response time changed only by seconds as he walked from one location to another.
Both departments agreed that these new spaces are more functional for their needs. Though the new locations may be an adjustment for students, Spiritual Formation was originally housed in the offices by Needham, according to both Whitford and Ferrin.
“Spiritual Formation basically went home,” Ferrin said.
Ferrin was also pleased with the student-centered approach the Laguna office will allow. Whereas there was little room for staff or students in the entrance of the Needham space, now there will be lobby area that could hold about ten people. Students entering SFD will now be entering from Needham Courtyard, rather than the east-side steps, according to the email sent by the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs.
Just as Ferrin saw the change as bettering customer service for his department, Whitford believes moving back into the original SFD offices will help the department best serve the student body.
“Because we are a Christian university, it makes sense that Spiritual Formation should be at the center of campus,” Whitford said.
“Whenever I passed Needham Chapel, I felt an tug in my spirit that Spiritual Formation should be in there,” Whitford said. “I didn’t strategize to have this move, I honestly prayed ‘God if you want this, then let it happen.’”