Housing expands key card access

Feb. 18, 2011, 2:04 a.m.

As part of a larger effort to enhance campus safety and security, Student Housing recently installed ID key card access in Manzanita Park, Mirrielees and Toyon Hall, replacing the traditional lock-and-key system.

The card systems, which were introduced on Jan. 31, 2011, allow students to enter their dorm buildings with their Stanford ID cards. These recent additions are only part of an initiative that began three years ago with the introduction of ID card access systems to freshman residences, Rodger Whitney, executive director of student housing, wrote in an e-mail to The Daily.

“While Stanford has not had serious security problems, there was an increased awareness that safety was of utmost priority campus wide,” Whitney said. “We wanted to be proactive rather than reactive.”

Feedback and concerns from students also played crucial roles in the implementation of the new changes as well as in previous card access projects at other dorms. Both students and resident fellows were surveyed prior to the project’s execution and have been involved throughout the process.

“This year specifically, feedback indicated that students were eager to have card access installed and/or in use at their residences,” Whitney said.

The reaction from students since the project’s implementation has been generally positive. Kafi Hemphill ’13 said she appreciated the convenience of the new system.

“I didn’t like it at first, but I really like it now,” Hemphill said. “It has made it easier to get into the dorm quickly.”

Manzanita resident Robi Bucayu ‘13 voiced a similar opinion about the efficiency of card access. However, the new system has also elicited a number of criticisms. Some students, including Hemphill, were disgruntled that the system changed partway through the year.

Another complaint about the new key card system deals with Student Housing’s decision to add an alarm system that sounds if dorm doors are propped open. This feature was originally installed to improve safety.

“The use of door alarms has enabled a higher security level for residents,” Whitney said. “Doors are no longer accidentally or intentionally left open, which means that individuals who do not belong in a residence have a much harder time gaining access.”

In the case that a door alarm goes off, the dorm staff is alerted through text messages. Housing Building Managers, custodial staff and Housing Access Specialists are notified and instructed to follow the University’s prescribed course of action. The Housing Access Response Team (HART) is also available after-hours.

But the door alarms have received mixed reviews from students.

Toyon Resident Assistant (RA) Colin Campbell ’11 found the alarm change to be a great improvement.

“Before, you had no idea if the door was propped open, and now it can’t be propped open for more than [a few] seconds without the alarm going off,” he said.

Hemphill, however, found the alarms to be somewhat of a hassle.

“I don’t think propping dorms open was a large problem to begin with,” she said. “And now, if you leave the door open for a moment too long, the alarm goes off.”

Although building access technology has steadily spread at Stanford, students shouldn’t expect to have key card access systems for their rooms any time soon.

“The University does not plan to install card access at student room doors in the near future,” Whitney said. “We do intend to continue installing card access at perimeter doors of housing facilities.”

Governor’s Corner is next in line to have card access systems installed. The Row, which is under review, may follow suit.

In light of safety concerns this quarter, these recent changes to building access were seen by most students as welcome improvements to convenience and security.

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