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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Despite short staffing, ACESS makes all-campus events possible

Students dance on stage of Grinnell’s annual drag show during the fall of 2019. Photo by Isabel Torrence.

Jon Gomez

After the tedious work week, it is no easy task looking for student employees who are willing to work on Friday and Saturday nights. On top of that, many students would not prefer to supervise slightly intoxicated students that might antagonize general safety procedures. These concerns are only amplified by COVID-19, which makes attending any event, even in a professional role, more dangerous. The presence of ACESS (All-Campus Events Student Safety) at these events ensures campus functions remain student-run.

ACESS is an on-campus job overseen by SGA’s All-Campus Events chair and the Department of Student Involvement. Normally, the assistant director of student involvement is tasked with coordinating ACESS at events.

Mushadda Morocco `24, an ACESS employee, explained that “at any school-sanctioned event, like a concert or a Harris party, you basically have us there so the students can have fun and be safe while doing it.” Morocco went on further to describe the training and qualifications that student workers must complete before they are ready to watch over student safety. According to Morocco, ACESS staffers mostly use their active bystander training, which he described as being “a fly on the wall, making sure everybody’s safe. [And] if you see some people entering an altercation of sorts, knowing how to step in and calm it down without escalating it or anything like that is really important.”

Morocco explained how the recent pandemic years has impacted employment of ACESS, “COVID had big repercussion on it. All the people that were in ACESS my first year were juniors and seniors. So after COVID, all of them already graduated, and it was left to the people that were already on ACESS before COVID happened, which is just me and about two to three other people.”

Although being an active bystander and dedicating oneself to the respectful behavior at public events is expected of the students in attendance at all-campus events, ACESS staff is there to supplement the self-governance that is implied. Morocco `24 described the student-run job as “keeping the students with the students … because I know on-campus parties would have a different vibe to them if the workers that are hired to come to watch them were adults. I feel like having students around to watch, but also make sure that you’re still safe, provides a layer of comfort among the parties but as well as provides that same layer of safety.”

While ACESS is available to facilitate a safe event, they are especially prepared for the occasional inebriated attendee that needs some help getting back to their residence hall or friends. Morocco `24 described an experience while working an ACESS shift where “there was someone who had a little too much to drink and was a little disoriented,” so some ACESS members helped escort them home. However, with the restarting of these weekend events, more support is greatly needed and ACESS is still looking to hire more staff.


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