UConn Insecure: security failures allow students to swipe into past dorms

A Daily Campus investigation found that students were able to swipe into residence halls from spring 2015. (Jason Jiang/Daily Campus)

A recent breach in security was found allowing students to swipe into residence halls they occupied in the spring of 2015.

A new $30,000 swipe system was put into place over the summer enabling dual access of residence halls for select students - residential assistants, residential hall employees, those making room changes and summer program students - according to Assistant Director of Student Welfare Alisa Geller.

“We do have students who get dual access. They are needed for things such as room changes and Residential Assistants,” Geller said.

An investigation by The Daily Campus showed that out of seven students, of which three are Daily Campus employees, all were able to gain access to their previous residence hall. This is not what is intended for the system. 

“I’ve seen students swipe in who don’t live in the hall,” fifth-semester chemical engineering and German studies dual major Summer Kochersperger who lives in McMahon said.

After testing the glitch for themselves, other students reported that they felt unsafe.

“Wow, that’s a huge security risk,” said Angelique Cavagnet, fourth-semester political science major.

The dual access is limited to current residential students who are bound by the housing contract. Off-campus students do not have card access to the residential halls.

The granting and regulation of the dual-access students is organized directly by Geller, who repeatedly stated that the doors to the residence halls are secure.

“Safety and security is a shared responsibility,” Geller said. “We can run reports on who’s been in certain buildings. We do it daily or every other day. We ran a report after you contacted us and everything was normal.”

Geller, after initially denying the glitch’s existence, accepted its existence, but denied knowledge due to not being made previously aware,

“I can look into that matter,” Geller said. “That doesn’t show up in my access right now.”

Geller attributed the glitch to accommodations in the buildings for the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA. This act requires a delay in the locking of the doors to accommodate students with disabilities who may need to reopen the door. 

“Some buildings have ADA requirements so there is a delay on the door,” Geller said. “ If someone comes in soon after and swipes that may be the problem.”

The glitch later disappeared from three of the seven cards after a reporter provided Geller with their information. All three cards belonged to Daily Campus reporters.

“I could look up a record at some point [of who swipes into buildings],” Geller said. “It takes a little bit of time. It has not been on board very long and we do upgrades. The card access and doors have to communicate with each other.”

The system update went into place before the start of the fall 2015 semester. 

After being notified of the glitch Geller said the department would be running tests overnight to identify the issue. 

Geller said the only time Residential Life is aware of a glitch in the system is when they are made aware.

“We have a new upgrade with the card access systems, with every system there are a few kinks,” Geller said. “If we ever had to shut off card access we could do that for safety concerns.”


Sarah McNeal is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at sarah.mcneal@uconn.edu.