GUEST adopts new uniforms

The buddy system just got a little brighter.

The Gannon University Escort Service Team (GUEST) has replaced its old uniforms. This year the all-student staff will sport neon-orange vests, which replace the T-shirts and light jackets worn since GUEST was launched in the 1990s, said Ted Marnen, director of campus police and safety.

GUEST work-study students escort Gannon students and faculty to and from buildings on campus after dark, so they don’t have to walk alone.

The uniform was updated more for function than fashion, Marnen said.

“We changed the look because we wanted to identify them easier,” he said. “The vest itself is a better fit, physically. The previous shirts and jackets just looked too baggy. The vests are more flexible.”

The fit of the vests will ensure that they are comfortable for the staff to wear year-round over any clothing.

“Before they had to put that thin jacket over their coats,” Marnen said. “The vests are light but they slip over the student’s existing clothing easier, regardless of the weather.”

In addition to the new look, GUEST is planning to evaluate its operation and efficiency. Marnen’s student squad will work the posts and routes as usual for the first three to four weeks of the semester, then listen to any feedback that suggests how the service could be improved.

“The program is going to provide the same services,” Marnen said. “We just hope to make it better.”

This year GUEST will better document the movements of the escorts, but overall Marnen said he would like to see the use of the service go up.

“I don’t think students and staff use GUEST enough,” he said. “Part of the problem is we don’t keep an accurate record of what they do. How long are they there? And how long are they taking to get there?”

The students who compose GUEST number close to 30, and every year new students are trained until they are ready to don their radios and orange vests. But Marnen said the staff changes are usually an easy transition.

“We have a turnover every year,” he said. “Kids opt to take different work study jobs in different fields, or they graduate. I know we have about 10 coming back from last year for sure. But in order to provide an adequate staff to fill the needs, you’ve got to have a lot of folks.”

Seeing as GUEST is included in the university work study program, Marnen said his staff earns its pay by serving the campus community.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” he said.

Laura Haldeman, a senior early childhood and special education major, worked for GUEST her freshman year. She said she got a lot of studying done on her down time, but she enjoyed taking a break and stretching her legs every so often.

“I liked when people asked me to walk places with them because it got me up and moving,” Haldeman said.

Marnen’s message to any incoming freshmen? Be aware of GUEST and the benefits of its use.

“They need to know the service exists out there; it’s there for them,” he said.

Haldeman agreed, stating that “not a lot” of students take advantage of the campus-provided buddy system.

Marnen emphasized that his GUEST staff is equipped to escort anyone anywhere.

“If they’re willing to walk, we’re willing to walk,” Marnen said. “And when they’re done, we’ll go over and meet them and walk them back.”

Even though the service’s accessibility is one of its main components, its deep history of preventing a late-night attack on students is GUEST’s most important quality from Marnen’s perspective.

“At least since I’ve been here in 2000, we’ve never had anyone victimized when being with a GUEST,” Marnen said. “So it’s safety in numbers.”



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