Menlo College Transitions to New Security Leadership During COVID-19

Nichole Smith

Security leadership at Menlo College changed dramatically this February when Taylor Henkel, Director of Housing and Residence Life, took on additional responsibilities in managing campus security. Menlo College President Steven Weiner announced the news in a mass email on February 1, 2021, to students and staff detailing the change in campus security leadership. Previously the campus Director of Security was Rick Edge. 

President Weiner decided that the transition from Edge to Henkel was necessary since “we saw an opportunity to add an educational function to our security program.” Weiner chose Henkel for this role because of Henkel’s “education focus and talent.” According to the Menlo College student life website, Henkel’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Development Studies and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education, both from the University of Virginia. According to his LinkedIn profile, Rick Edge’s educational background shows an Associate of Arts – AA focused in Administration of Justice from Gavilan College. He also worked as a resident assistant when he was in college. 

When asked if these changes to Menlo College’s security program were something to be concerned about, President Weiner replied, “Any time we can extend our educational role, it’s a positive thing in my book!” Edge is working closely with Henkel during this time as “we have an extended handoff period in play as Taylor Henkel assumes the security oversight role,” according to President Weiner.

President Weiner saw the need for a change in security measures as soon as the Spring 2021 semester began. “At the beginning of this semester, we saw a more intensive security presence as essential in order to reinforce key messages about COVID-19 safe behavior practices.” 

Taylor Henkel believes Menlo College’s need for security due to the pandemic has changed since “we are rethinking Security as a whole and thinking about how Security is also a tool for community advocacy and education.” With the ongoing volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic, Henkel “[sees] Security as another tool in our toolkit to provide education and support to our community about COVID-19 practices and how to be safe.” Rick Edge did not respond to email messages and was therefore unavailable for comment. It is unclear what his role will be moving forward. 

The construction site of the new dormitory building and the many pieces of artwork on campus are also concerns for campus security. To protect the artwork and construction site, Menlo College has “installed additional security cameras to monitor the construction site” and is also “increasingly reliant on constant monitoring [of the artwork] via security cameras,” according to President Weiner. 

The integration of COVID-19 protocols with campus security has been a noticeable change for those living on campus. Senior Jaden Scott (2021), a member of the security team, believes that the need for change in campus security is a “positive phenomenon” since “these new measures are in place simply to ensure everyone is following the Covid protocol and not mingling in dorms other than their own.” She adds, “and it’s working! There have been NO outbreaks on campus since students have returned.”

Ever since the transition from Edge to Henkel, Scott has observed changes in how security operates amongst students and athletes on campus who need strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure everyone’s safety. “We now need to show our ID card to the guard outside our dorm hall in order to be let in, and there is now only ONE entrance & exit for each dorm building,” Scott stated. 

The possibility of further changes to campus security remains open as the situation with COVID-19 and students/staff living on campus evolves.