NEW ORLEANS (February 21, 2022) – “The Great Resignation” during the pandemic appears to have had little effect on the Dillard University campus – except, perhaps, for campus police, according to officials.
DU Police Chief Angela Honora said she is looking for another four campus police officers for a full complement of 18, which she said would be up from the nine on board – six officers and three dispatchers – when she arrived last year.
And the lack of visibility of officers at the gate and elsewhere has some students concerned about safety.
A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Since April 2021, the number of nonfarm workers who quite reached record levels, with nearly 33 million people leaving their jobs – more than a fifth of the workforce.
In Louisiana, the teacher shortage in secondary schools is a continuing problem, with 30 percent fewer students aspiring to become teachers, according to a report from a state task force for the Louisiana Legislature and at 25 percent jump in the number of teachers retiring, according to the state Teachers’ Retirement System. State Education Superintendent Cade Brumley was quoted recently as saying that half of the state’s teachers leave the field after five years.
No data could be found for higher education faculty, but Dr. Yolanda Page, vice president for Academic Affairs, said Dillard is in good shape with its faculty. Page said two faculty positions are open at present to replace one faculty member who retired and another who relocated; that’s fewer than last year’s total of four openings.
One gap is how DU’s student support staff, such as maintenance workers, are holding. A call to DU’s human resources department was not returned.
Campus police gaps and safety
Honora said five officers have resigned since she started at Dillard. She said one was sick and the others said they were taking higher-paying jobs. She conceded pay is an issue for her staff; while she would not give specifics, she said starting pay for an officer is under $15 an hour.
Eighteen DUPD staffers would be ideal, Honora said, for the campus’ population size and because the campus is gated. Having fewer personnel is one reason the second gate on Gentilly is mostly closed, except for special events, she said.
The lack of visibility of police has prompted some student complaints.
Jamiya Lewis, a sophomore biology major, said, “I drive past the gate at night all the time and rarely get stopped.”
In response, Honora said officers have been advised to stop everyone, but on such a small campus, there is a tendency for officers to start to recognize students: “They get used to your car, used to your face [and] they just let you come through.”
Even so, Honora said crime is relatively minor on campus.
“Thank God this is the first campus I’ve been at where we don’t have as much [crime], but we have had thefts … We may have gotten five or six drug calls for the smell of marijuana, and I think there was one [for] alcohol.”
She said if you compare Dillard’s numbers to any other university in New Orleans, the numbers elsewhere would be 10 times higher.
She said one major problem with which students can help is “propping the doors open, not realizing how unsafe it it.” Officers are asked to check residential hall doors every hour and not at the same time every day, but she said problems are consistently seen in Camphor, Williams and Straight halls.
She said she has contacted D. Jamar Simmons, assistant dean of students and interim director of Housing and Residential Life, about her plan to create a log for each time a dorm door is unsecured so he can get a monthly count of the problem in each residence hall.
Anthony Klotz, a Texax A&M psychologist who is credited for creating the term “The Great Resignation,” told NPR recently that the pandemic has made people reevaluate their lives and what they’re getting out of their jobs.
Resignation rates are reported to be highest among mid-career employees and in the tech and health-care industries.