There are a number of ways that universities can secure their campus residence halls. Thanks to new readers, credentials and surveillance technologies, advancements in physical security are providing universities with a plethora of tools to better safeguard their campuses and students.
But often the largest barrier to residence hall security are the residents themselves.
In a recent incident on Boise State’s campus where a student was assaulted, it was found that the assailant entered through a side exit door of the residence hall that had been purposely propped open during a party. It’s a common occurrence that leaves a gaping hole in residence hall security.
According to a report from Boise’s FOX affiliate, door propping is common at Boise State and requires residence hall staff to leave their post and close propped exit doors. For all the advanced security technology that is available to a university, there’s not a solution that un-props a door. Often times, the best we can expect is rapid electronic notification.
Boise State has 11 on-campus residence halls that house some 2,400 students. University officials continue to make safety and security a top priority, requiring students to scan their student ID at their designated residence hall to gain entry.
University leaders say having card readers at main entrances increases safety, and forces residents and their guests to enter through areas that are monitored by video surveillance and that have front desks staffed roughly 18 hours a day. This adds a layer of security, as residence hall employees can visibly recognize residents and guests as they enter the building.
Boise State and other universities facing similar challenges can only encourage students to follow safety policies, while university staff continue to respond to propped doors.
Herein lies the challenge of physical security: if even one student decides to ignore security policies, the entire building can be left vulnerable. So how does a university inspire its students to take security seriously at all times? Is the only option to deploy a robust, layered security system and hope that students respect the safety of their peers enough to not circumvent it?
Let us know your thoughts on the matter and how your campus has approached layered residence hall security by emailing [email protected], and your comments may be used in a larger review of perimeter security.