To Wharton senior Shreya Zaveri, the security guard at her dorm in Kings Court College House was not only there for her protection. She was also a friend.
Her friendship with the security guard led her to wonder about the interactions between other students and staff at Penn. She decided to pursue this interest through her “Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management”course project last semester and found that her interactions with staff were the exception, not the norm.
“Learning more about [Penn staff] really brought home for me that we don’t know enough about the people who work beside us,” Zaveri said.
The security guard who was the inspiration for the project expressed conflicting feelings about her interactions with students.
“When the students graduate, I cry. I love them like my own kids,” a Kings Court College House security guard said in the group’s report. “But honestly … some of them never even say hello.”
The study found that 87 percent of students do not interact with the security guards in any way. In addition, the study found that only eightpercent of students say “hello” to security guards and only onepercent of all students say “thank you.”
“We’re all very busy people,” Wharton senior Hari Joy, another member of the Management 104 team, said. “We aren’t trying to say that Penn students are unappreciative, but in my personal experience we could do more.”
Most students in the study seemed to view their interactions with staff as better, or more personal than the data showed.
The study primarily focused on the interactions between students living in on campus dorms and Allied Barton Security Guards and found that the quality of the interactions decreased depending on the general age of students. For example, the group found thatfreshmen living in Kings Court College House engaged in significantly more interactions with students and security guards than those living in Rodin College House, which houses only upperclassmen.
Alicia Harrwell, who has worked in the Stouffer College Housing Office for nearly 30 years, also noted that freshman are particularly friendly.
Harrwell said she has grown rather fond of the students that she has helped, particularly when they come in as freshman.
“We have a lot of student contact,” Harrwell said, “The first year students make the most impression, and over the years I still keep in contact with some of them.”
Franklin Riley, the front desk attendant at Houston Hall, agreed that he enjoys working at Penn and seeing a diversity of students.
“It’s a good atmosphere to work in,” he said. “It’s good to see a mixture of race here.”
As a result of the group’s findings, the Management team later decided to create an annual Penn Employee Appreciation Week, which they began last semester. Over 200 students attended the event.
The event occurred the week before Thanksgiving break and encouraged students through an online campaign to learn facts about and give thanks to staff at Penn by posting on social media with the hashtag #PennAppreciates.
“It’s really knowing more about them that helps.” Zaveri said. “This will definitely color people’s interactions by realizing that these are real people.”
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