Getting to Know Campus Safety

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Author: Rachel Stober|Ella Fornari

Crime never sleeps at Occidental College. But luckily, neither does the Campus Safety Department, comprised of 14 full-time officers who work to provide safety, security and emergency response services 24 hours a day, seven days a weekFor those who have not had the opportunity to meet them (whether it be for a ride from the library or perhaps less enjoyable circumstances), the Weekly sat down with a few officers to get to know the men and women behind the Campus Safety uniform.

Holly Nieto:
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Holly Nieto is the Director of Campus Safety.  She has worked at Occidental College for over half her life and has worked in Campus Safety since 1992. 



OW: What is the weirdest call you have ever received?
HN: I don’t really respond to calls from students, but I think anything that involves calls of attacking squirrels are always funny.  Not at the time to the person it happened to, but certainly to me.
OW: What is your favorite movie?
HN: I really like movies that make you think, but kind of action, suspenseful things.  I’m a big fan of the Bourne Identity series.  

OW: What kind of music do you listen to?
HN: My grandchildren call it old lady music: Coast radio station, Neil Diamond, probably the typical thing your grandma listens to.  I do like Train … I think P!nk is fabulous.  I just like P!nk because of her attitude, that in-your-face attitude that says, “screw you, if you don’t like me, I am who I am.”  That really apeals to me.

OW: Do you have any pets?
HN: I have a dog, there’s a picture on my desk and lots on my phone.  She’s a Yorkie. Her name is Julie. She’s six and half pounds of special …   Little dogs are funny. 

OW: What did you do for fun when you were our age?
HN: No, no, no, I will never tell.  There are things I do not want my current students or my children as adults to know that I did.  Leave it to say I went to San Diego State … I was very active in a national sorority in college …  I was in college in the ’60s, so I was engaged in social activism, mostly Vietnam-era activism.  That was my social justice at the time.  Kind of interesting since I’m from a military family, made a bit of a dichotomy

Ed Cunje:
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Ed Cunje has been working full time on Campus Safety at Occidental College for three years, but has been on the force for ten years total.  He is currently the Lead Dispatcher for Campus Safety. 

OCCIDENTAL WEEKLY: What do you like about working at Occidental College?
ED CUNJE: I grew up in Eagle Rock, so Oxy has always been home to me …  some people go to work and it’s a whole other vibe for them. It’s nice to be helpful and help students like when I was in college, I can relate to them. I’m not that much older than the students here, so it’s nice to help as many people as I can.

OW: Do you have any advice for Occidental students regarding safety?
EC: Be aware of your surroundings. I think sometimes we, as a general statement, are comfortable here at Oxy and sometimes we kind of don’t pay attention to what’s around us. I think it’s very important at all times, whether you’re on campus or off campus, always be mindful of everything going on around you. That’s very important, so I stress that with everyone I know.

OW: Any other general advice for students?
EC: Remember, you’re at college [and] it’s about having a good time, but it’s also about maturing and growing up.  Enjoy yourself, but also be safe at the same time.  Enjoy yourself, but be safe.

Steve Oakly:
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Steve Oakly has been with Campus Safety since 2005.  He currently works as a safety officer as well as on dispatch.

OW: What do you like about working at Occidental?
SO: It’s a beautiful campus. It’s over a 100 years old, it’s unique enough in its look that they shoot movies here and it’s a liberal arts college, so in terms of pleasant places to work it’s pretty high up there to me. Students and staff, everyone’s pretty gracious and wonderful.  I would say 98 to 99 percent of the people we deal with as our costumer constituents are great, wonderful people, and the other one percent it’s our job to deal with.

OW: What advice do you have concerning safety for Occidental students?
SO: We’re here to help, we’re human beings, we’re not cop wannabes. We’re pretty easy to avoid [and] if you know what our goals are it probably helps. We generally just want to ensure compliance with the rules that are already in place, for the college [and] for everyone’s protection and safety. It’s fun to be around young students who are young adults, because they’re interesting and cool people. We want to be friends as much as we can be and still get our job done.

Edwin Mourthi:
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Edwin Mourthi is currently a Field Sergeant and has been a member of Campus Safety for five years.  He is a Los Angeles native and a father of three kids.  

OCCIDENTAL WEEKLY: Do you have any feelings about students referring to you as Campo instead of Campus Safety?
EDWIN MOURTHI: As long as they don’t call me late for dinner.

OW: What in particular do you like about working at Occidental?
EM: I worked at a police department before I came here.  Loop closure: every year we get a new class of freshman, excuse me, first-years, [and] they make the same mistakes, but at the end of four years I get to see them graduate …  That growth is something I didn’t see in the city. 

OW: Any general advice for students?
EM: Cable locks are easy to cut if you’re going to have a bike on campus.  The most important thing I want to get out there to students is take care of each other, because there are a lot more of you guys than there are of us. If you help each other make good choices, things will end up OK.

Claudia Cunde:
Claudia Cunde has been a part of Campus Safety for 10 years, and is currently the only female officer in the force.  She is the Administrative Sergeant for the department.  

OCCIDENTAL WEEKLY: What’s the most annoying thing students do?
CLAUDIA CUNDE: I guess if I had to, when they don’t stop at a stop sign.

OW: What is your favorite part of the job?
CC: All the people, the workers, the students and neighbors. 

OW: Do you have any pets?
CC: I have three children, but my daughter also has a cat.

OW: What music do you listen to?
CC: All ’80s.

OW: What is it like being the only female officer on Campus Safety?
CC: I’ve been the only female recently, but there’s been others.  I don’t know, it’s just been my job.

Elarryo (Larry) Bolden:
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Larry Bolden is a father of two and has been working for Campus Safety since 2010.

OW: Whats the most annoying thing that students do?

LB: That’s a trick question! I’d say maybe when they call and request something that they know is not in the protocol.

OW: Like what?

LB: Well, [Steve Oakly] got a call for a pick up at the Bellagio yesterday or two days ago. Now granted it’s an obvious prank … So it may not be the Bellagio as it was with that case, but for instance we got a call tonight to go to The York. It’s a bar. So we will not transport kids to bars. If one would think about what you would do at a bar it would be kind of obvious that being that our second word is safety, we might not do escorts to bars.

OW: They wanted a ride there?

LB: Yes, certainly from [we would have given them a ride], meaning that they can’t get back another way, but not there.

OW: What do you do on weekends?

LB: A lot of the time I’m here. The times that I’m not? I do a lot of boogie boarding with my kids at the beach.

OW: What’s your favorite movie?

LB: Probably, “Do the Right Thing.”

OW: What kind of music do you listen to?

LB: I was just listening to some Robin Thicke, but I really like Prince.

OW: Any advice for Oxy students?

LB: Words that my luninent likes to use that I would reiterate, “safe and legal!” Hmm but what would I tell students if they actually listened? Enjoy yourself. That’s what college is for, but if you think about it, also college is for preparation for the world, for the real world, so see if you can balance out the life experiences of joy and fun and partying with the understanding that this is it after these four years.

Charles Willis:
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 Charles Willis is a Los Angeles native and an evening Field Officer and dispatcher. He has been with Campus Safety since 2009.

OCCIDENTAL WEEKLY: What would you say is the weirdest call you’ve ever received?

CHARLES WILLIS: Here at Occidental? Quite a few. I guess I don’t see them all as weird ’cause we get so many different types of situations, so it’s hard to say which one is weirder than the other one, but we’ve had a lot of animal calls that are kind of strange. I think those are probably the weirdest ones to me ’cause animals sometimes freak me out. We had a snake situation once where we had to go get a snake from the porch of SAE … There was another officer who actually picked up the snake, put it in the trunk of the car, and took it up to Fiji hill and let the snake go … and about a week later when I was on patrol I saw the snake cruising around up there … He might still be there.

OW: What do you do on the weekend for the fun?

CW: On my day off? Usually catch up on all my chores and home duties and things like that, and then I like going to USC football games! I’ve been to quite a few of those, they’re tight.

OW: Do you have a favorite movie?

CW: “Friday After Next.”

OW: So do you like Ice Cube?

CW: I like comedies. I like a lot of comedies basically.

OW: What’s your favorite TV show?

CW: I don’t watch lot of TV, but right now Chris Matthew’s “Hardball.” Politics is my thing right now.

OW: What kind of music do you listen to?

CW: I listen to a lot of jazz, R&B; and rap.

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