Res. hall rooms outfitted with electronic door locks

BY ELIZABETH ANDERSON
Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 3, 2003

Electronic locks on residence hall rooms, which since December have inconvenienced some residents of East Quad Residence Hall and given others a feeling of greater safety, are spreading across campus.

Shabina Khatri
RYAN WEINER/Daily
Door locks at East Quad Residence Hall require a key card and code to gain entrance to individual rooms.

The new locks, now being installed in Alice Lloyd Residence Hall, automatically lock closed doors in an attempt to counter thefts and break-ins. Hotel-like key cards and individualized codes provide entry to residence hall rooms and bathrooms.

"Students are receiving a second card, which only works in their room doors," said Alan Levy, director of University Housing public affairs. East Quad is serving as a test of the locks' implementation and usefulness, he said.

Art freshman Geoff Silverstein said he thinks the new locks are excessive but useful. "I think it's a slight inconvenience. It seems kind of ridiculous ... like we're living in a hotel," he said. "The upped security in general is good because I know there have been problems."

Levy said student safety was the most important factor in the development of the locks.

"The University made a commitment to do this after a series of home invasions took place (in the residence halls)," he said. "We want as much deterrence as possible."

Larcenies and peeping tom incidents in the residence halls were unusually common during Fall 2001 and Winter 2002.

In addition to the locks, video cameras in East Quad and South Quad residence halls have also been installed to help prevent crime.

The video cameras "are used as a deterrent and investigative tool," said Ian Steinman, director of University Housing security and associate director of the Department of Public Safety.

DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said another crime deterrence measure taken is the 24-hour controlled access of the residence hall entrances.

Since last winter, all residence hall entrances, including front entrances and loading docks, are locked all day and night. Brown said the 24-hour controlled access has deterred crime but added that the success of the new room locks is unknown. "It's a little premature because they haven't been installed that long," she said.

"They just went in so we're going to do some careful analysis (of their crime deterrence) at the end of the term," Steinman said.

East Quad residents and other students mainly reacted to the inconveniences of carrying around an extra card and being locked out more often.

"We've received varying responses. Many students are pleased the University is taking their safety responsibly," Levy said. He added that some students are concerned about the "Big Brother" aspect of the locks, which are electronic.

Steinman said security has the ability to track which cards have been used in each lock. "If there's a problem or a crime, we'd be able to determine who ... attempted to access the room," he said.

East Quad resident Ruthie Freeman said she was unaware of a crime problem prior to the locks' installation.

"I never felt unsafe. I guess it's probably safer. ... It takes the human fallibility component out," Freeman, an RC freshman, said. "The general feeling I get is that it's an inconvenience. There's a kid in my hall who just never shuts his door now."

Construction on the locks in Alice Lloyd began Tuesday, while construction in Betsy Barbour and Helen Newberry residence halls is scheduled next.

Alice Lloyd resident Patrick McIntyre argued that students are responsible for locking their doors. Leaving them unlocked "puts your own room at risk and your own things at risk," McIntyre, an LSA freshman, said. "The University should wait to see if the keeping the front doors locked works before spending money on other measures."

In response to student comments, Brown said community safety is the University's highest concern. Crime "puts the whole community at risk," she said.