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September 13, 2013
Vol. 55 No. 2

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West Village suites to receive new locks

What makes a residence hall safe? Is it the Resident Assistants who do rounds and
enforce rules? Is it the residents who abide by the rules that are in place?
In West Village, it seems that the most important aspect of security is the simple ability
to lock doors.
Before this fall, all suite-style residence halls were without locks on suite doors.
As the staff of residence life said, there are two points of security in all types of residence halls: the outside doors which require ID cards for entry and keys to enter personal rooms.
According to Erica Stephenson, associate director of residence life, neglecting to place locks on suite doors in the past was an effort to create a better sense of community among those who had two doors between themselves and other residents instead of one.
In addition, not placing locks on the suite doors kept West Village in accordance with other buildings around campus, she said.
Staff members involved in residence life are unaware of why the decision has been
made to place locks on the suite doors in West Village, and Don Weirick, assistant director of Public Safety, said that there have been no incidences which would require or prompt the placement of the third set of locks.
The only explanation that both Jenna Antoniewicz, director of community standards and student conduct, and Stephenson could give was that the extra lock on the suite doors may allow the residents to feel more secure when leaving belongings in the common area of their suites.
However, as Stephenson said, many residents already locked away individual items.
Whatever the case may be, there is debate over how the transition may affect residents of West Village now and in years to come.
Antoniewicz said she believes that as long as RAs in West Village receive sufficient training in creating a communal and interactive environment, the dynamic among students should not change.
However, Stephenson and Jose Sanchez, assistant director of residence life for community development, said that there is some concern regarding the ability of students to not only interact well with each other, but also their ability to communicate with their RAs on a regular basis or in an emergency.
Stephenson said that as in any residence hall, RAs will still have master keys to each personal room door in West Village, as well as suite doors in case of emergency and in order to complete nightly rounds.
Similarly, Weirick said that adding locks to suite doors will not be a fire hazard or in any way be a concern when trying to reach students in an emergency.
But this will not ensure that residents will have the ability to contact their RAs as they do now.
Sanchez affirmed, however, that there will be no policy regarding keeping suite doors closed or locked, and therefore an open-door policy will still allow for intermingling if students choose to do so, as well as contact with the RAs.
According to Sanchez, RAs will receive further training on creating community among residents, and there will be specially planned programs and events to urge residents to interact, including "meet your neighbors" and noise planning agreements.
Still, Sanchez said, having the capability to "lock themselves behind two doors" may allow students to "isolate themselves" and will require a greater effort by RAs to motivate all students to participate in a communal atmosphere.
The possibility of adding locks to the suite doors of West Village was discussed last spring, Weirick said, and plans to install them have been finalized.
According to Stephenson, the project will begin on Sept. 17 in Aspen Hall and is scheduled to conclude on Oct. 3 in Willow Hall.
During this process, Stephenson said, all residents will receive weekly schedules delineating when locks will be placed on individual doors.


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