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Big man on campus

As a couple tries to enter the fraternity, security guard Niko Jones refuses to let them in without ID. Photo by Joseph Oh

It was a typical Thursday night in the Greek community. Groups of students traipsed through the rain, laughing, and shouting as they wandered from house to house.

Niko Jones and his security crew were watching over the festivities from various fraternity doorways, keeping a careful eye on the partygoers.

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Jones maintains control of the growing crowd outside of Alpha Epsilon Pi.

It was already 10 p.m., but Jones’ shift was just starting. As partygoers arrived, they formed a line outside the fraternity Jones was stationed and waited for him to check their Husky ID to verify they were UW students. Jones made casual conversation with people as he let them through the doorway.

“There’s 40,000 students, and I’ve been doing this for 10 years, so I’m really bad with names,” Jones said, “but I’ve developed a lot of relationships over the years.”

As the night progressed, more partygoers arrived, and soon the line to enter the fraternity was a mass of students. Jones informed the crowd that the fraternity was at capacity and no students would be allowed in until others left.

One student protested, yelling, “But Niko, we’re friends.”

Jones glanced at the student, who is one of the many he has befriended throughout his career.

“Oh I know we are — we’re tight,” Jones told her. “But you still have to wait.”

Before he began working for fraternities, Jones was a bouncer at the bar Earl’s on the Ave. One night while he was working, a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity approached him and asked if he would form a team to provide security for an event his fraternity was hosting. Jones agreed, and created his company, Titan Security, shortly after.

While working in the Greek community, Jones’ duties include ensuring that fraternities do not exceed maximum capacity, making sure only UW students are allowed in, and maintaining general order and safety.

“The skill that I try to instill in my guys is that we’re here to help these kids and protect them,” Jones said. “When people drink, they forget sometimes about the dangers that they place themselves in.”

Jones said that he did not attend fraternity parties when he was younger, but he did go to nightclubs. As a former partygoer, he can relate to the students he encounters.

“For us that are older, [partying] is something that’s a ‘been there, done that’ kind of thing,” Jones said. “For [the students], it’s new and exciting, and they want to have a good time.”

Jones also has a 9-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter, who is in college. As a concerned father himself, he does everything he can to keep students safe.

“A couple of years ago, a young lady came to a party, and she was just really wasted and didn’t know where she was,” Jones said. “So I ended up having one of my guys cover my door, and I walked her home.”

When he arrived at the woman’s house and Jones knocked on the door, her roommates were hesitant to let him in.

“Getting a knock on the door by a 6-foot-6 black guy at midnight is not something they were willing to open the door for, but I told them I had [their friend] with me and [that] she needed to be home.”

If someone is so intoxicated that they have become a liability to themselves or the fraternity, Jones will not let them into the party, and over the years he has become an expert at determining when someone has reached that point.

“If they come in, and they’re a little buzzed and in control of their faculties, then I usually let them in,” Jones said. “But if they get that glazed look in their eyes, or they have to have a friend to hold onto or something, that’s not a good sign.”

Jones is the owner of Titan Security, and although he and his employees provide security at other events — such as private parties and personal body guarding — his clients in the Greek community are a top priority.

“We do a lot of frat parties,” Jones said. “Whenever there is a frat party and the houses that we work for give us a call — we’re there.”

The fraternities keep Jones and his crew busy. They work in the Greek community multiple nights a week. Although it is not a requirement, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) recommends that fraternities hire professional security to help manage social functions where alcohol is present. Alex Strohofer, a UW senior and president of Pi Kappa Phi, said most fraternities follow this recommendation and rely on Jones and his crew to provide the security they need.

“I think there are only a few, maybe one or two houses, that don’t hire Niko,” Strohofer said. “We’ve been hiring him for awhile, and [he and his team] do a good job. I’ve always had a good experience with Niko and his employees. … I don’t think I’ve ever had to write up a bad review about them, so I’ve never tried to look anywhere else for another security team.”

Even though Jones has to turn some students away or reprimand them to maintain order, he is still well-liked among partygoers.

“[Jones is] really friendly and doesn’t glare at you,” UW junior Monica Archer said. “He still follows the rules and doesn’t let random people in or cut [in line], but he’s nice about it.”

Jones is confident in his abilities as a security guard, partly because he knows he has a realistic outlook of what is expected of him while working in the Greek community.

“I’m really good at what I do, and I think I have the right mindset for it,” Jones said. “Working with fraternities, I know that I’m there to help have a safe and fun party, and not try to hinder that.”

Reach reporter Sarah Elson at features@dailyuw.com.

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