Flying under the radar, night security coordinator oversees, protects, mentors UT students

Zoe Tzanis

Editor's Note: This story first appeared in The Daily Texan's February 5 online edition.

In the middle of the night, Leo Filyk walks laps around the common spaces in Andrews dormitory. Hunched over a book, pacing back and forth, he reads for hours. 

“Late at night, time feels so expansive,” philosophy freshman Filyk said. “I just default to a kind of a nocturnal schedule. I always find myself up at 3 or 5 a.m.” 

Filyk is one of the many student residence hall security coordinators Daniel Thompson sees on the Honors Quad security cameras night after night. 

As an undergraduate at UT, Thompson said he was similar to Filyk. He stayed up late and eventually got to know the night staff at his dorm in Prather Hall. 

Thompson said working late hours seemed like a good opportunity to make money and do schoolwork at the same time. He started as a part-time student security coordinator with University Housing and Dining in 2010.  

“It forced me to reorganize and kept me out of trouble,” Thompson said.

Years later in 2018, he returned to UT to pursue a new degree and reapplied for the position. Now, he works there full-time while he finishes up his B.S. in chemical engineering.

“This is one of the only jobs that I can work and have full-time hours, be a … student and still be available for my kids,” Thompson said. 

Thompson is responsible for maintaining the safety of the residents and facility during the late hours of the night. He carefully monitors the security cameras, keeping tabs on the common spaces and any late-night homework doers.  

“I get really used to the students, their study habits and their schedules,” Thompson said. “I'm quickly able to recognize if something is out of their routine.”

While not a requirement of the position, as a consistent friendly face, Thompson tries to build a rapport with the residents. 

If students' habits change, he’ll ask them, “Were you studying somewhere else last week? I didn't see you yesterday. Was there an exam?” 

“I’ll notice if someone didn't swipe in that night who would normally swipe in after exercising or if someone is totally missing,” Thompson said.

Business and Plan II freshman Gabrielle Jabour is one of these resident night owls. 

She often spends late nights studying in the Carothers Hall lobby long after her roommate has gone to sleep. While she hasn’t had too many interactions with the night staff, Jabour said she feels more comfortable being up so late because someone like Thompson is there.

“It’s helpful to have the common spaces, so I can still stay up and get stuff done without having to worry about … walking anywhere late at night,” Jabour said. “I’ve never really thought about the fact that the security officer can see me during those times. It’s a little weird to think about, but it’s better to have a security officer watching.” 

Filyk, the pacing bookworm, became quite familiar with Thompson and was inspired to follow in his footsteps. He recently applied to work as a student night security coordinator just as Thompson did in 2010.

“There's a lot of people on the night staff team that really do care about that interaction with students,” Thompson said. “When I was a student, there (were) some times I didn't want to talk to anybody, but it was very comforting to know that I had that person there.”