This week, the Retriever was able to meet with one of UMBC’s few Student Marshals. We met with the intention of raising awareness of the Student Marshals on campus, and shedding light on what exactly they do here. We spoke with Maurice Brown, a senior environmental science major. Brown was born and raised in Charles County, Maryland where he received an engineering degree from a community college. He is a soon-to-be black belt in UMBC’s Tae Kwan Do club and he enjoys tinkering with his car.
It was immediately clear that Brown was not a pseudo campus cop, but a UMBC student who has passions and goals just as any other student.
The Retriever: How long have you been a Student Marshal?
Maurice Brown: I have been a marshal for all three years that I have been here.
TR: In your own words, tell me about the UMBC student marshals as a collective.
MB: Right now, there are currently nine of us, but we are currently hiring. We are losing quite a few people, including myself to graduation and whatnot. As far as communication goes, we function like any other student club. We keep in contact, we share information, we cover each other shifts. We’ll hang out from time to time, but everyone has their own loves, so it has never been a clique. We are a working group first, but we are always able to be social with each other.
TR: What made you want to become a Student Marshal?
MB: I was actually recommended to the job. A graduated friend of mine had been in the marshals before I transferred in. She told me that the police staff and the marshals were a really good group of people, and that it would be a great way to make a bit of money, meet people, and get to know the area as well.
TR: Walk me through the different duties that the marshals have on a weekly basis.
MB: During the week, we have what is called “line duty”, which is where a marshal goes through the academic buildings and either unlocks them early in the morning or locks them in the evening. Luckily, we have a good number of us to spread this shift out, because the times can be inconvenient.
We also have “escort shifts” at night. This is when people call into the station and request that a marshal walk with them from any campus building to their car or dorm if they don’t feel safe walking alone. Particularly during the warmer seasons, the escorts shifts get busier because it gets darker later and more people are more comfortable being out and about in the good weather.
Generally from Thursday to Sunday, people schedule us for “event shifts.” These can be anything from Dog Collar comedies to club banquets, and it can involve any number of marshals depending on the size of the event. We provide light security and screening of all guests who attend, and in the event of an emergency, we are the firs contacts to the local police.
TR: What are some of the greatest challenges and greatest benefits of being a student marshal?
MB: The greatest challenge has to be early morning line duty. I get here at 5 a.m. twice a week to unlock all of the buildings, and fumbling around campus with all sorts of little variables, believe it or not, is quite the task. Actually, memorizing all of the keys for the buildings is one of the hardest things we go through! (we both laughed)
The greatest reward, for me, is working the different cultural events. We get a lot of exposure to different people from around the world, and the food at those events is a bonus! (we chuckled) But, being exposed to those events is definitely a high mark of being a marshal.
TR: Are there any improvements that you would like to be made for the student marshals or UMBCPD and how they conduct the marshals?
MB: Honestly, no. When we’re hired to work an event, for example, we get a sheet of information that tells us what the expected turnout is, when to be there and any special requests from the organization. What’s complicated about that is when the hosts aren’t very organized or have communication issues with us or the guests. Sometimes there are just human flaw-type errors.
TR: Why are Student Marshals important to the campus?
MB: Marshals are important because they really are a bridge between the students and the local police force. A lot of people have mixed feelings about dealing with officers directly, so when those people can go to another member of their community, a class mate, a club member or even someone closer to their age, there’s a level of trust there.
The Student Marshal application can be found here.