A Temple University student was able to use a Target gift card — rather than the university’s OWLcard student ID — to bypass security desks located in campus building lobbies.
In a story published by the student in question on youth news site, The Tab, the freshman noticed that some campus security guards were becoming lax in their checking of official OWLcards, which students are required to present in order to gain access to campus facilities. To test her theory the student bought a Target gift card and attempted to access 13 buildings across Temple’s north Philadelphia campus. Expecting to be turned away by security guards for presenting a phony credential, the student was allowed to walk into nine of the buildings without issue, ID unchecked.
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Temple’s campus employs security guards to check IDs and help monitor building access. The guards are employed by AlliedBarton, work full time on Temple’s campus and are tasked with verifying student ID cards before allowing cardholders into campus facilities.
In the student’s report, however, two campus residence halls lacked a security guard altogether, while the student was also able to access a building where a card swipe was required for entry. At the university’s Tech Center, the student was allowed to quickly swipe her Target gift card immediately after the person in front of her — while the card reader was still green — giving the impression that another valid OWLcard had been swiped. The security guard in that instance failed to recognize the phony card and allowed the student to enter.
Also included in the write up is a short video of the student walking past a distracted, on-duty security guard. The video, uploaded to YouTube, shows security guards allowing the student to enter without checking for a valid student ID card. One of the guards also appears to have their head down, and fails to ask the student for an ID despite signs at the desk asking students to have and show their OWLcard.
This story likely isn’t the only one of its kind, as access control and visitor management measures are only as secure as the personnel entrusted to execute the policies. Moreover, ensuring that a building is completely air tight when it comes to physical access is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to execute. But the silver lining to situations like this is that institutions can make the necessary adjustments to better ensure campus security going forward.