Last Thursday, the Residence Halls Association met with Michigan Student Assembly representatives to debate the question of Mcard access to residence halls. MSA representatives attended the meeting to address the complaints of students who find the current policy of restricted access to the residence halls unnecessary and bothersome. At the conclusion of the meeting, RHA and MSA decided to leave the policy as is, but allow a newly created task force to further consider the issue. However, all students should have easy access to the resources that the dorms provide, regardless of current residence.
As the situation stands, any student not living in an individual dormitory is restricted from entering it. Only those persons with meal plans may enter the dorms at the particular dining hours, and even then, only through specified entrances. This creates a general inconvenience for students who are meeting in the dorms for a group project, wish to visit a close friend, or want to utilize the laundry facilities or study areas. Rather than having convenient access to these University buildings, students are instead forced to be escorted into the dorms by a current resident.
Opponents argue that increased student access to residence halls would be a threat to the security of the students currently living there. However, it is unacceptable that an effort to provide for student security would undermine student access to the resources that the residence halls offer. It is entirely possible to provide for the adequate security of dorm residences without prohibiting non-residents from using these facilities.
An excellent example of this are the newly installed code locks on dormitory room doors. Such systems help provide fail safe security for students in the dorms – and do so without curbing access to the cafeterias, offices, and other services. All doors automatically lock, protecting the possessions of even those who habitually forget to lock the door.
Yet even MSA Vice President Monique Perry’s proposal falls short of what is needed. It seeks to expand residence hall access to all students between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. A 12-hour policy such as this offers no clear security advantage, but plenty of access issues for students. RHA and MSA should reconsider this issue seriously, and vote to allow 24-hour access into residence halls for all students.