Notre Dame to strip student ID cards of campus-wide dorm access, claiming safety reasons
Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Notre Dame students now only have Irish1Card access to their own dorms, director of residential life Breyan Tornifolio announced August 15 during a hall staff training, according to multiple people present at the meeting.
The University eliminated student ID card access to all dorms starting this academic year, restricting students’ abilities to access any residence halls but their own. The announcement sparked angry reactions and a flurry of questions from resident assistants (RAs) present at the training, who were told by Tornifolio not to say anything until the administration informed the community.
According to one hall staff member, who asked to remain anonymous because of concerns regarding disciplinary action for discussing the issue, the University said the new policy was meant to increase safety and other schools had a similar policy. The meeting was mainly an alcohol safety session, the hall staff member said, before Tornifolio “sort of just dropped that [announcement] at the end.”
Several RAs stayed after the session to discuss questions with the administration.
Currently, students are allowed entry into any residence hall starting at 9 a.m. and extending until midnight on Sunday-Thursday nights and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Associate vice president for residential life Heather Rakoczy Russell and Notre Dame Police Department chief Keri Kei Shibata released a joint email August 19 announcing the policy change to Notre Dame students. In the email, Rakoczy Russell and Shibata confirmed the decision was made for security reasons and said it follows a national security trend in academic institutions.
“Beginning with the fall semester 2019, student access to undergraduate residence halls will be limited to current residents living in the hall,” the email said. “This change will not only be in keeping with national best practices but also ensure greater safety and security for those living in the residence halls.”
Non-student access to resident halls will be limited to “essential staff only” starting this semester, Rakoczy Russell and Shibata said in the email.
“The quantity and variety of outside vendors, faculty and staff permitted residence hall access will be drastically reduced,” the email said. “Essential staff with residence hall access must use swipe cards issued to them; residents should not assist staff with entering halls, and they should notify NDPD if anyone attempts to enter halls without swipe card access.”
Hall staff members will discuss these policy changes at section meetings during the first week of school, the email said.
Notre Dame student government issued a statement following The Observer’s report of the new policy.
“The decision by the Office of Residential Life is very upsetting, and we have heard many concerns from students over the past 24 hours since the policy was announced during RA training,” the statement read. “ … We were not included in discussions on this issue and look forward to meeting with the administration to express the concerns of the student body.”
Notre Dame’s announcement comes not long after the Office of Residential Life mandated incoming students would now be required to live on campus for six semesters. In April, the office introduced a number of new housing updates as additions to that policy, including one that sparked outrage in the community and prompted a petition with more than 6,000 signatures.
A version of this story was published August 19.