UPD maintains campus security Hobo Day weekend


A series of fires and vandalism accompanied by hundreds of rioters 25 years ago became known as the Hobo Day riots. Now, Hobo Day passes with relative ease compared to that weekend. 

“Arrests have gone down over the past several years,” said Timothy Heaton, chief of safety and security for the University Police Department. “I think the kids are more conscious about what would happen to them if you mess up.”

The decrease in arrests can be linked to an attempt by UPD to impose more disciplinary referrals in order to attempt to educate the student population. For example, alcohol-related arrests on campus have dropped from 192 cases in 2012 to 105 cases in 2014. This, however, has led to the number of disciplinary referrals increasing by over 60 percent during the same time period. The referrals increased from 262 cases in 2012 to 423 cases in 2014.

The drop in arrests and the absence of any major incidents in the last 25 years can also be linked to the Office of Safety and Security’s efforts to educate people. 

“Our role is to guide the students and to try to change their behavior,” said Donald Challis, the assistant vice president for safety and security. “We also try to have more disciplinary referrals instead of arrests.”

According to Chief Heaton, the main problem the UPD struggles with during Hobo Week and Hobo Day specifically is the increase in alcohol consumption. The department still maintains the same policies that it does during the rest of the school year without any leniency toward any of the laws and safety regulations. 

“Our job is to enforce the law, therefore we maintain the same policies during Hobo Week as we do for the rest of the year,” Heaton said. “We are out there, we ask people not to overdo it because we will come and then they will be in trouble.”

The nighttime seems to be the most difficult time for Hobo Day as UPD has what they like to call an “all hands on deck” case. UPD mostly focuses on campus, but still receives help from the Brookings County Sheriff’s Department and the Brookings Police Department who maintain a heavy presence during the day. 

UPD employs 11 student patrols whose duties include patrolling school grounds and residence halls as well as assisting in any events. The most important part of their day will be the Hobo Day football game. 

There are seven newly hired student patrol, but they still play an important part of the security force. Josh Kamami, the student patrol training officer, said the student patrols’ job is to keep campus safe while the students enjoy the celebration.

“We want everyone to enjoy homecoming but in a responsible way. There is a lot of pressure during Hobo Day, but you just have to be smart about it and who you are with. We are not out there to get people in trouble,” Kamami added.

Chief Heaton has been at SDSU for 20 years, 18 of these years as police chief. Although the Hobo Day riots happened before his arrival, he disagrees about the naming of the event. 

“It was a big party,” Heaton said. “I have seen riots firsthand, and I wouldn’t classify it as a riot.”