Suspended in the security gap
Letter to the Editor | Friday, September 27, 2019
Last Wednesday, Heather Rakoczy Russell explained to the Student Body Senate that the main cause behind the new Swipe-In Policy is student safety and security. Senators then raised the concern that swiping in provided the administration with a record of many people that enter a dorm, and it was here that Chief Keri Kei Shibata mentioned that the administration was looking into the addition of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras outside of every door of the dorms. My consequent concern is this: What is the administration doing in the interim?
It seems to me that this is just another symptom of the administration’s policymaking process that does not include diverse voices across a long-term, collaborative development period. Such rash action on the part of Residential Life has suspended us students in what I call the Security Gap. After swipe access was taken away, the administration does not have a record of swipes into a dorm. Additionally, until the CCTV cameras come into full effect on campus, they have no record of who is entering and leaving the dorm and at what time. Ms. Rakoczy Russell seemed not to take this rather apparent contradiction into consideration: In trying to increase dorm safety, the administration has reduced security of every dorm on campus. Ask yourselves, fellow students, what your reaction is when someone approaches your dorm door with you. Frequently, these people just tag along and tailgate you into the dorm. Ms. Rakoczy Russell’s reaction to this fact was utter shock; she expressed severe disappointment that in the two weeks since the policy’s roll-out student leaders present at the Senate meeting had not banded together to “change the culture” surrounding dorm access. What were her suggestions? We students, she says, are responsible for shutting those tag-along students out of the dorm and requiring them either to meet their host at the door in the moment or to call that host for the express purpose of letting them in. Not unreasonable, wouldn’t you say? That is, it isn’t unreasonable until you wonder what a person with ill intent would do to gain access to a dorm: they will lie, they will appeal to you personally, they will do anything to get around you and into the dorm.
The problem is not that students let other students into the dorms. The problem now is that there is a complete lack of surveillance of those entering the dorms. Students of ill intent (there are not many but they do exist) can act with relative impunity in entering any residence hall of their choosing without a single record to say they had done so, whether it be a swipe-in log or a video tape. If the administration intends to move forward with its hard stance regarding the Swipe-In Policy, they will continue to suspend us in this Security Gap indefinitely. My humble recommendation is simply this: suspend the new Swipe-In Policy until (1) CCTV cameras can be bought and installed across campus and (2) the surveillance of dorm entrances can be effectively implemented. Otherwise, the administration has not made us safer but has, in fact, given cover to the risks they hoped to stifle.
class of 2022
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.