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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Review campus security with vigilance

Published: January 25, 2013
Section: Editorials

Last week’s incident in Village A residence hall, where a man not associated with the University intruded into a student’s dorm room, should raise concern among members of this community. Brandeis students and staff should respond with vigilance, along with minor, but proactive security changes.

Most security scares during the past few years, from car break-ins on campus parking lots to money stolen from unlocked door rooms can be traced to awareness around public safety. Students can’t blame campus security when simple common sense precautions could have prevented the crime.

The trouble with last week’s incident is that it could have happened in any dorm and still can. While increased awareness and vigilance might force students to question why a 50-year-old man is waiting to enter their dorm, a 26-year-old, like last week’s intruder, looks like a student. He could easily be a student. Because some residence quads, such as the Village, Ziv and the Foster Mods are located close to South Street, they create a need for additional security measures.

Campus police should explore placing additional surveillance cameras at entrances to these buildings. In addition, we support The Justice’s editorial on Tuesday in calling for additional blue light call systems.

To monitor who enters residence halls in the evenings, we recommend that the Department of Public Safety and the the Department of Community Living establish a testing period where, for one month, in the Village and Ziv, they close certain entrances, and require students to present their ID at a security desk. The desk does not need to be staffed by police. It can be staffed by a CA, CDC or paid student worker. Requiring students, even in buildings with a card scanner outside, to show a picture ID upon entering, could prevent future incidents like the recent one.

Public Safety should monitor the visitor logs and review the data to determine whether such a system might be permanently sustainable.

Certainly, no protocol can be substitute for awareness. But if we are honest with ourselves and we review what happened, it becomes increasingly difficult to say that it was simply a lack of awareness that led to the trespassing. Most students, at 11:15 on a Thursday night are not asleep and have no reason to lock their dorm room until they go to bed.

Our community should take proactive steps to ensure the safety of our campus. Students and staff should collaborate to develop the most effective ones.