Five campus dorms unsecured

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September 18, 2007

2:03 AM

A Flat Hat investigation found that at least five dorms on campus can be entered without the use of an ID card. When notified of the findings, Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler said he was “greatly concerned.”

p. “Keeping doors operable and locked and screens secure is critical to the safety of those who live in our residence halls,” Sadler said.

p. The investigation found that four freshman dorms and one upperclassman dorm were not secured.

p. Taliaferro Hall, located near the Campus Center, is home to 49 freshmen. While all of the doors require an ID swipe for entrance, the kitchen windows on Taliaferro’s first floor were left unlocked. The screens, thin and flimsy, lack the reinforcement of the second screen with which many first floor windows are equipped. These second screens, made of thicker metal, help prevent entrance through punching or cutting the flimsier screen.

p. At Barrett Hall, the first floor bathroom and lobby windows proved similarly vulnerable. The most apparent opportunity for entry was an unsecured window in the bathroom on the west side of the first floor. Attached only at the top, the screen in the bathroom could be pulled open from the outside without difficulty. Barrett Hall, once an all-girls dorm, is now a co-ed dorm where 176 freshmen reside.

p. The two largest freshman dorms, Yates Hall and Dupont Hall, which hold 266 and 264 students respectively, were also accessible. At Yates, an entrance to a common room in the back of the building was unlocked.

p. A back door to Dupont did not close all the way behind entering students. In addition, the sliding doors to the first floor balcony at Dupont were not locked.

p. The final oversight revealed by the investigation was a crawl space beneath Chandler Hall. Entrance to the crawl space could be obtained through window-like apertures at ground level. The crawl space connects to the building through an unlocked cubby in the basement near the laundry room.

p. When expressing concern, Sadler added that dedication to safety is shared by both the administration and Residence Life.
He said that it is the responsibility of the Residence Life staff to check all doors during their nightly rounds and that a repairman is on-call at all times so that breakdowns in security can be immediately rectified.

p. “Safety is everyone’s responsibility,” he said. “If we all report situations as soon as we first see them, we can help make the campus safer for ourselves and for others.”

p. Don Challis, chief of Campus Police, shared the sentiment that security is an area where the campus community cannot afford to be passive or naive.

p. “Students aren’t always aware of life’s realities,” Challis said. “On a campus so serene and calm, it is easy to forget about basic security issues.”

p. Challis censured the common student practices of leaving doors unlocked or propped. Having worked on three different college campuses, Challis noticed similar behavior from other students as well. “When we’re young, we don’t always think about these things.”

p. If students notice a door that is functioning improperly or a window that provides easy access to a dorm, the proper step is to inform Campus Police or a member of the Residence Life staff as soon as possible.

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