March 10, 2023 | NEWS | By Mariel Zech
Chris Gibson started working as a Campus Safety Officer in the spring of 2021. I have enjoyed getting to know Chris through Safe Ride transports. In this conversation, Chris talks about the ins and outs of working at Campus Safety. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What brought you to Colorado College and what were you doing before?
Before Colorado College I was an emergency services dispatcher in New Jersey. I did that for 26 years. What brought me here to Colorado is that I was stationed out here a long time ago in the military and I fell in love with the place. I said that when I retire, this is where I’m coming. So, I retired and came on out. Colorado College reached out to me — I had some resumes out — and they liked what they saw.
What’s your favorite part about working at Campus Safety?
Getting a chance to meet so many young people with so many different backgrounds and ideas. It’s the energy, it’s great. I really enjoy it. And the area is pretty nice, too.
Is there anything that you wish students knew about the Campus Safety office that they might not be aware of?
Well, we’ve been referred to as Campo. If that’s short for Campus Police, we’re not police. We’re safety officers, we’re a resource for the campus community, and — especially after hours when most of the faculty and staff leave — we really step up and wear lots of different hats. We try to facilitate whatever the needs are of the community.
Do you think students have misconceptions about Campus Safety?
I’m not sure. Well, it may be that we’re authority figures or something like that, and it’s not like that for me. I just try to intermingle with as many people as I can and just let them know that we’re here to help out with whatever situation comes up. I try to make this college experience really something to remember, and I’m happy if I’m part of doing that.
Have you been involved in the decision to get rid of the blue light system on campus? Do you think the RAVE guardian system app or calling campus safety line makes the most sense at this time?
I think at one time, the blue light was a visual reassurance that wherever you’re at on campus, you can call and get help. At this point, I do believe that using the RAVE system and just giving a call would probably be more efficient. Most of your generation is very tech savvy, so I think that would work better. In my experience, being here for two years, I only remember maybe two times when someone pushed that button and it was really an emergency. Otherwise, it’s usually just a prank.
What does a typical day on campus look like for you?
We come in and get our shift briefing; basically, that’s whatever happened on campus in the two shifts prior to ours. They let us know what is coming up and what to expect, and we get a chance to get some information from our senior officers and administrators about upcoming events and our part in it. That’s about maybe 15-20 minutes, give or take, but because I come to work at 2 p.m. and that’s like the busiest time of the day, there are things happening in real time during the briefing. So right after the briefing we grab our keys, radios, and everything and take off and get caught up with everything. We do a lot of transports — grocery shopping, medical appointments — that uses up quite a bit of our time. In between there, there’s certain unexpected things, like someone locked their key in their room, or a building needs to be opened up after-hours for an event. Other than that, we patrol around. I like to at least peek my head into Worner Center or the library at the beginning of my shift because those are the areas with the most activity, and just to show my face and say, hey I’m here, if you have anything you need of me or whatever.
I remember you telling me once that you all laugh a lot in the office.
I love to laugh. I mean, when you take your job seriously, but you don’t take yourself so seriously, you can have a good laugh at things. Keep it light, you know? There are emergencies, but they don’t usually happen. Usually it’s just small things, and if you don’t get too overexcited about it, there’s a reasonable solution for it and most of the time, we can handle it.
Do you have any funny CC party stories that stand out to you?
Well, most of the time with the parties is they usually happen in the evening. My shift usually ends around 10 p.m. at night; usually they don’t get lit until around 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. Of the parties that are registered with us, we always show up before and meet with the sober host (while they’re still sober) and just go over some general rules, and just let them know that we are available should anything go sideways. Call us first, don’t call the local police, let us try to handle the situation. We do feel responsible 24/7 and we do our best to step out there and try to help.
That being said, I do recall a time that we were called to a party, I think it was at Montgomery. They were having a celebration during block break, and everybody was downstairs, they had food and drinks and chairs all around. And a squirrel got inside there. The squirrel is running rampant all over the place, up and down the steps and everything, and I wanted to laugh but I couldn’t because I had to take care of the squirrel. This squirrel was chasing people all around, and we finally got it out, and the squirrel took a few steps outside the door and turned around and looked at us. And I just couldn’t hold it anymore. We all had a pretty good laugh about that one.
Is there anything that you’re looking forward to right now?
Just being a part of this community. The energy, the aspirations… just learning as part of my job, and being as good at my job as I can, and being available. I think that’s important, especially after hours. If you want to talk to me about anything, I’m pretty easy going. With my experience and my willingness to help out, if any student at any time, or anybody, thinks I could help out or give them some advice or anything, sure. You bet.
Do you have any movie recommendations?
Haven’t seen too many of them in a while, working from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. But something that will make you laugh. In the world we’re dealing with right now, the media is just saturated with all kinds of tragedy, sadness, worry and everything. To be able to to let yourself go out and see a good funny movie — I think that would be excellent.