Dear Melville:
It is 11:59 p.m. I am a student, a friend, a stranger. I can enter any dorm on campus. The receptionist does not give me a second glance. I am free to go anywhere.
It is 12:00 a.m. I am a student. I can enter one dorm, my dorm.
It is 12:00 a.m. I am a friend, a stranger. According to school policy, I cannot enter any dorm without official documentation of my presence. A minute ago, I could have done anything.
[rapist]Only one second stands between who can enter any residence hall on campus. The very thought that one ‘tick’ on the old grandfather clock changes the entire entrance procedure is ridiculous.
During the day, anyone can walk into any hall. Is an intruder more likely to enter after midnight? If someone really wants to enter a hall, he knows to walk in the door, even if a few seconds, before the receptionist starts swiping ID cards for the night. The procedure of having to stand in a line, be swiped in, and then sign friends in does not ensure the safety of residents.
If the dorms really want to protect students, there should be card swiping at all times, side doors should open only from the inside, and it should be mandatory for rooms to be locked. Why not add surveillance cameras to all entrances as well, just for extra protection? As excessive as these suggestions might seem, it is the only way to make sure no one enters a hall that he or she does not belong in.
It is even hard to protect residents when visitors are documented and signed in. One person’s friend could be another person’s rapist. It’s impossible to tell. A receptionist can’t decipher what a person’s real intentions for entering a hall might be.
Case in point, the morning of the Michigan vs. Michigan State football game produced a real scare among students living in Holden Hall. An unknown male tried to enter a student’s room without her permission. After being turned away, he continued to knock on several other doors trying to gain entrance. When officials arrived, the male simply said he was looking for a friend. The question is how this man was able to enter Holden in the first place. Clearly football game day lock-down did not stop him. Most likely he used a propped-open side door since ID card swiping would have been necessary for all main entrances.
The only way MSU could have stopped him or anyone else like him would be to have all doors locked at all times with card swiping at every entrance.
Nevertheless, it’s very clear that it would be impossible to implement all these outrageous conditions in order to assure safety within all residence halls. Therefore, students should take on the individual responsibility of keeping their halls safe. It then lies on the shoulders of each person to lock doors and not prop side doors open. Without this cooperation, nothing MSU does to “keep students safe” will have any effect.
What MSU does do, to ease the minds of weary students, actually accomplishes very little in the ultimate goal of safety. Card swiping, unless implemented at all times of day and night at every entrance to every building, will not stop the intrusion of strangers.
Therefore, there are only two paths MSU can choose for the safety of its students. Either the university can hand all the responsibility to the students themselves and ditch the entire card swiping nonsense or take up all responsibility for public safety and card swipe all the time, everywhere. One ‘tick’ on the old grandfather clock should not change anything.
Rather A. Larmed

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