Campus Cadets

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Campus Cadets providing security for a rush party

The Campus Cadets were a campus security organization formed in September of 1975.  Cadets were students whose job was to patrol the campus at night.  Their purpose was to prevent crime on campus, and to alert campus police to problems when they arose (Goins).   Cadets had no powers of arrest, and would not enter dormitories unless they were asked to.  Their duties often included escorting female students across campus late at night, or assisting drunken students back to their dorms.  Similar programs had already been implemented at other colleges, including UVA, and had been successful, as was the program at Madison.

Cadets were students at Madison, and had to be in good standing with the university.  They also went through a screening process.  They were paid two dollars and ninety-five cents an hour, and could work as many or as few hours as they wanted to.  They worked in pairs, and were given a radio, a flashlight, and an identification card (O’Leary “Twelve Student Aides Hired”).  There were 12 Cadets when the program first began.  This may not seem like much, but compared to the 14 campus police officers, even that number makes a difference.  Not only is the presence of a Cadet a deterrent to crime, if a crime occurs the Cadets can radio it in to the police, when otherwise it may not have been noticed by their limited patrols.  Their gear reflects their mission.  Cadets are given flashlights and radios.  They are meant to observe and report more than they are to actually stop crimes and apprehend criminals, although they do not seem to have minded doing that either.

Not all students were happy about seeing the Cadets at first.  Many Cadets had to deal with harassment, insults like “pig” and “space cadet” and thrown bottles from students who thought the Cadets were trying to get their fellow students in trouble.   Actually they were doing the opposite, preventing students from getting in trouble, while at the same time preventing trouble from happening in the first place.  Chief of Police Jay Crider cited the Cadets as “a major deterrent” to vandalism, and as “instrumental” in several cases.  Campus Cadets helped to apprehend a man suspected of assaulting two Madison students.  They also prevented the common crimes that tended to occur on campus, like theft and vandalism, and were able to alert campus police to anything major that happened, at which point officers could be on the scene in minutes.


Cadets patrolling the Warren University Union

The Cadet program at JMU was very effective, especially as a preventative measure.  Cadets could make sure that the Campus Police never had to be involved in incidents that otherwise might have resulted in students getting in trouble, even if it was just trouble with the university, and not actual criminal charges.  This was the very reason the program had been suggested by Dr. Carrier, the President of the College, in the first place. He believed that the institution of the Campus Cadet program would allow students to avoid dealing with the police and getting into trouble for petty reasons. He especially pointed out that the Campus Cadets could prevent students from being arrested for being drunk in public while on their way home after a night out.

The Cadets were proud of what they did.  Although some new Cadets would be off put by the way they were sometimes treated by other students, they knew that they were providing a valuable service to the Madison community. Simply put, the Cadet’s themselves described their job as “walking around, keeping people from getting into trouble” (Partlow). And there were many students who appreciated their hard work.  One student said that Campus Cadets “keep an eye on us,” and others pointed out their dedication and professionalism (Partlow).

Campus Cadets were a way of allowing the limited security forces to better prevent and police crime on campus.  With only a handful of police officers, patrolling all of campus would be nearly impossible.  With the addition of the Cadets, security can extend throughout the campus, cutting down crime rates and making students safer.


Works Cited:

Carrier, Ronald, Dr. “Class Lecture,” History 337 Local History Workshop, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, March 13, 2013.

Goins, Jennifer. “Student Cadets to Police Campus, Student Center,” The Breeze, 2 September 1975, p.1.

O’Leary, Tim. “Twelve Student Aides Hired to Help Alleviate Crime,” The Breeze, 3 October 1975, p.1.

Partlow, Gail. “Cadets Assist Campus Security,” The Breeze, 19 April 1977, p.7.