With an increasing crime rate in residence halls this academic year, questions have been raised about the quantity and quality of campus security, which has been a visible presence in the dorms for almost thirty years.
“Personal safety of our residents is undoubtedly our paramount concern,” said Director of Housing Security and Associate Director of the Department of Public Safety Ian Steinman.
Each residence hall is assigned one DPS security officer who is present in the building from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m. Smaller halls, such as Martha Cook have an officer that patrols the dorm and the area around it. These officers are professionally trained and make a minimum of three rounds per night around the building. They check for safety violations including fire hazards, propped open doors and suspicious activities. If a resident calls DPS with a complaint, the dispatcher will alert the security officer via radio. They also have office space in the lobby of the residence halls to fill out paperwork and hear complaints.
University Housing officials say that the housing security officers are members of the residence hall community. They meet with residence hall staff every night and try to get to know the students in order to give them a sense of comfort and security on their floor.
“Officers are integrated into the community,” said Alan Levy, director of Public Affairs and Information for University Housing.
However, several students have said that, despite having a sense of security, they don”t see the officer”s presence that much in the halls. Engineering freshman Rachel Karwick, a resident of Mosher Jordan, said she has seen officers in the corridors twice since September.
“For the most part, they”re in their office. I think they should be out and about more,” she said.
LSA sophomore Joe Ament, a South Quad resident, said that security should be increased within reason so it would “not violate the rights of residents, but at the same time to watch their safety.”
Until yesterday, residence halls were locked from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. only allowing access to residents who swiped their MCards. Now all residence halls will be locked 24 hours a day, only allowing access to residents. Steinman said students should still be careful about letting the wrong people in.
“Public safety and security in residence halls is everybody”s responsibility,” he said.
In terms of increasing security around residence halls, University Housing officials said that they are always looking for ways to improve procedures. The problem is that the crime situation varies each year with decreases in some areas and increases in others, housing officials said.
“Each year has brought us different issues to contend with,” Steinman said.
Levy also said that while they have looked into establishing practices such as night door monitors, used at other universities, every college is unique and what may work at one school really well might not be as useful at another.
“You want to use your resources as effectively as possible on your campus,” he said.
However, Levy and Steinman said if the current crime increase on campus continues, students could expect to see new measures in place in the residence halls, which match the needs of the students, the University, and Ann Arbor.