As a means to combat an increase in dorm damages, a system of Barracks Duty Officers (BDO) has been implemented for all corps members. The policy is seeing some success in preventing the destruction of university property and other incidents of vandalism, but it has also caused some backlash, according to the cadet colonel and other corps students.
“BDO is basically an implementation at battalion level of guard duty,” said Ryan Sutherland, 21, a senior computer security major from Palmyra, Pa. Guard duty is when three cadets, an officer, non-commissioned officer (NCO), and runner, most likely a sophomore or private, post in Jackman Hall doing various rounds making sure the campus is trouble-free for that night.
But Samuel Phaneuf, 21, a senior mechanical engineering major, offered his view that guard duty is not adequate to prevent all issues of vandalism. “for guard duty to supervise nine buildings on campus that cadets live in-spread out from Wilson to Crawford,” he said, “it’s not an adequate staffing.”
William Keenan, a 21-year-old junior electrical and computer engineering major from Pepperell, Mass., agreed, saying that “there’s not enough people on guard duty,” to prevent issues like “vandalism, or people randomly pulling fire alarms.”
The purpose behind BDO is straightforward. BDO is “a system when cadets and recruits alike take charge of the deck, the security on the deck, and the conduct on the deck,” said Kyle Marks, 21, a senior business management and accounting major from Lowell, Mich., “from a period of 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday thru Thursday and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.”
“BDO is a basic military function, any military installation is guarded at all times. An officer should find themselves on duty at some point. This is instilling military habits,” agreed Sutherland. “Also, it just teaches responsibility and personnel accountability, peer accountability, and gear accountability in a sense that you’re accounting for your building and ensuring that it’s safe at night.”
In order to conduct BDO efficiently, the dorm must staff an adequate number of cadets or recruits. “Usually it’s one officer, one NCO, and one or two runners or recruits for their building,” Sutherland said.
Keenan, who has already done BDO, explains how Alumni Hall is staffed for a typical night. “You typically have a senior, who is an officer, in front of the front entrances of Alumni,” he said, “ you have a senior NCO in front of the other door and then you have a junior NCO on the bottom deck to cover the back entrance, and two recruits just going around on every deck.”
Having recruits participate in BDO has had various reactions from different students.
“I don’t think it’s fair because it’s their first year in college,” said Elizabeth Boynton, a 25-year-old senior nursing major from Durham, Maine. “They’re already under a lot of stress, they’re trying to deal with cadre, it’s still too early to put them on something like that.”
Boynton’s opinion is shared by Andrew Judd, a 21-year-old junior civil engineering major from Concord, N.H. Judd agrees that the freshmen recruits have too much happening. He also makes the point that upperclassman are allowed to nap throughout the day, but policy states that recruits are not. Therefore, they would be losing sleep, according to Judd.
“We’re already having a severe lack of sleep and then taking another two hours,” said Dave Surgi, 18, a freshmen criminal justice major from Dracut, Mass., who has already done BDO. “It really kills your energy for the morning,” he said.
However, others like Gaelin Kurtzman, 18, a freshmen criminal justice major from Quincy, Mass., agree that recruits should participate in BDO.
“I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, I mean I got to kind’ve just walk around, see what happens at night,” he said.
“I’m usually up doing homework anyway. It was actually pretty good because I could focus,” said Zachary O’Neill, 18, a freshmen criminal justice major from Nashua, N.H., “there’s nothing to distract me in the hall. So I thought it was pretty fun because I got a lot done.”
O’Neill commented that he was still tired the next day, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Other cadets believe that recruits should participate because it’s only fair, however, they argue that their rank makes their presence ineffective.
“Freshmen are never going to say anything to an upperclassman really,” said Dana DeMartino, 20, a junior criminal justice and psychology major from Boyertown, Pa., “they’re too scared to really say anything to an upperclassman.”
Daniella Vitale, a 20-year-old junior business major from Providence, R.I., disagrees with freshmen being required to do the duty. She explains that because the freshmen are exposed to the inappropriate behavior of certain upperclassmen, than they might think that behavior is acceptable, when it’s not.
Whether freshmen are involved in BDO or not, the duty is seen as a way to police corps’ barracks.
“It was initially implemented because there are several buildings on campus that had a lot of damage cost,” said Phaneuf.
According to Phaneuf, some of the damages included smashed vending machines and broken glass scattered across the UP. “Gerard had over $1,500 within the first month or month and a half of school,” he said.
In addition to the thousands of dollars worth of dorm damages, there have been reported incidents such as harassments and assaults.
“It’s just disappointing that we have to have BDO because I think cadets should hold themselves to a higher standard,” he said.
Vitale commented on the fact that BDO had to be instituted. “We should have some kind of integrity and do what we’re supposed to do when nobody is looking and that’s one of the biggest problems on this campus.”
“Personally, I feel like BDO is a good thing to have right now,” Phaneuf said. But he commented that he doesn’t think it should be a week-long duty. He says that most incidents happen over the weekend when cadets come back on campus drunk, and start horsing around in the barracks.
“I think that during the week it is a waste of time because most people on campus are students so they’re busy, while on the weekend I think it’s a very good idea.” Judd said.
Kurtzman agrees. “I believe it makes it a lot harder for anything to happen because there’s people around the whole time. Does it make it impossible? Probably not, but it helps.”
According to Sutherland, “as soon as we decrease the incidents to a number that I find much more acceptable, BDO will stop and it’s my hope that we can end BDO in a week or two, or at least just move down to just weekends.”
He is hopeful that BDO will cease relatively soon because of the success of the first week.
Phaneuf reports that BDO has reduced dorm damages 90-95 percent within the first weekend of its implementation.
Even though BDO is not “popular,” according to Sutherland, stopping BDO has some people concerned.
Marks states that implementing BDO is an effective means to reduce the amount of issues happening within the barracks because of the fact that other people will notice any vandalism. However, he also states that those people who are constantly breaking things will most likely go back to doing so if BDO ceases.
“Once it stops, the incidents are going to start again,” said DeMartino, “I just don’t think it’s doing much.” She said that BDO is somewhat pointless because it only prevents incidents happening as soon as a person walks into a building – not outside or after they reach their room.
“It’s sad that BDO is probably necessary right now, but maybe if people get sick enough of it, they should see ‘oh maybe I should just do the right thing in the first place’,” said Vitale, “but then there’s the question of as soon as you go off it, will they just go back to their same ways?”