Nearly one year after a string of crimes were committed in residence halls and seven months after the University Board of Regents formally approved $2.4 million to improve residence hall security, University housing has begun making security enhancements. Housing has installed security cameras on all exterior entrances at South Quad and East Quad residence halls and they plan to continue to complete all other residence halls.
The improvements have come after lengthy delays, and the University should move quickly to complete the plan. It has been nearly one year after an unusual string of residence hall home invasions, peeping toms and assaults motivated University Housing to review its security measures. The University’s responses, including increasing police patrols, locking all doors 24 hours a day, and posting educational posters were a good start to improved security, but failed to curb the rash of incidents.
Security cameras raise many important questions, and their use should be strictly limited to identifying and apprehending suspects in crimes within the residence halls. The cameras installed thus far are unobtrusive and unmonitored and the remaining cameras should follow the same guidelines. Officials have said the tapes will only be used in the event of a crime. The cameras should also be limited to only the entrance areas to protect the privacy of students.
More importantly, Housing plans to replace the door locks throughout the residence halls with electronic locks that will automatically lock when shut. The new locks are a worthy investment. Since more than 95 percent of the home invasions occurred with closed but unlocked doors, the new locks will reduce the number of incidents. The University should continue steps it has begun to educate students about the new locks and should create policies minimizing the hassles to students who lose their cards or are locked out.
These new security measures must be balanced with the relaxed culture of the residence halls. Amid campus-wide cost-cutting, increased DPS patrols, cameras and locks represent necessary investments to ensure student safety.