Lack of attention to residence hall security swipes away student safety

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

On Nov. 18, The Daily Campus ran an article on a major flaw in residence hall security at the University of Connecticut.

Seven people, three of whom are correspondents for The Daily Campus, discovered they still had access to their residence halls from the previous year. UConn Residential Life has since corrected the error; however, the existence of such an oversight raises concerns regarding residence hall access and the potential for other, unreported issues.

Some residents and staff including resident assistants, employees of the residence halls, students involved in room changes and those that attended summer courses may have access to more than one building, notes Alisa Geller, assistant director of student welfare.

However, none of the students investigating the system error met these criteria.

This error created the potential for unsafe residence hall access. The Executive Director of Residential Life assured students that “the problem affected approximately 200 students” in a Nov. 21 email. However, given the widespread confirmation of this problem across the student body, this number seems arbitrary.

Though Residential Life responded appropriately in fixing the error, attempts at lessening the perceived severity of the problem are disconcerting.

The student broke into numerous residence hall rooms between two different residence halls on the campus, where he touched approximately 10 women (some of whom were minors, siblings of students) inappropriately.

UConn is not the only school with dormitory security issues. This past spring, a Penn State student was charged with felony burglary, illegal trespassing and multiple counts of indecent assault. The student broke into numerous residence hall rooms between two different residence halls on the campus, where he touched approximately 10 women (some of whom were minors, siblings of students) inappropriately.

Now, there is also uncertainty as to whether the intruders acquired access to the residence halls because they possessed retroactively functional cards as students or other reasons. However, such instances speak to the crucial role dormitory security – via restricted swipe access – plays in maintaining a safe campus space.

Though UConn has addressed this particular problem, such issues raise legitimate concerns that similar problems may exist undetected.

In their email, Residential Life assured students the problem had been addressed, saying “Safety and security is a shared responsibility by all community members at UConn.  Residential Life staff are pleased that students spoke up and brought their concerns to our attention so that we could resolve the problem.”

This message is important, as any concerns found by students should be brought to attention. However, the responsibility for finding and eliminating such security issues is solely that of Residential Life. This office must seek and discover problems, so as to ensure the utmost level of dormitory security.

Though this problem only, ostensibly, gave access to members of the UConn community, if a glitch gave non-UConn staff or students access to residence halls, the results could be endangering and disastrous. UConn must take this as a close call and do a full assessment of the new swipe system to ensure no other problems exist.