At Ohio’s Kenyon College, students have long been able to use their campus card to access not only their own residence halls, but every other dorm on campus as well. Starting this semester, though, students will only be able to use their cards to access their own residence hall.
The rule was implemented to increase security in the residence halls, but students are unhappy citing that the move as an inconvenience. Back in May when the Residence Hall Card Access Working Group at Kenyon tested restrictions on residence hall access, students disagreed with the implementation of such restrictions, claiming that the restrictions would not make the campus any safer. Students also argued that doors could be left propped open for students who could not get into the building.
Possibly in response to those complaints, Kenyon is currently installing alarms on residence hall entryways to stop students from propping the doors open for other students and potential intruders. Despite this, students maintain that the restrictions are in inconvenience.
Elsewhere, at the University of Mississippi, students can similarly only access the residence halls that they live in. Guests must also sign in at the front desk. Students have complained that the restraints put in place are too strict. One student commented that the restrictions make students feel as if they are in high school again. One student added that it prevented students from maturing into “responsible adults.”
Despite this, the Residence Hall Card Access Working Group stated that, by continuing to allow unlimited access to residence halls, the school is liable in the event that a dangerous situation occurs.
The importance of safety
Regardless of students’ thoughts on the matter, most universities allow students to only access their own residence hall with their campus card. The increasing concern regarding student safety, especially for female students’ safety and protection against sexual assault, has made these restrictions a necessity.
Parents and guardians – especially those of first-year college students – also expect colleges and universities to ensure the safety of their children. As students’ safety falls into the hands of the institution, colleges and universities implement such restrictions in order to prevent serious incidents.
Limiting access to residence halls solely to its residents has seen other ancillary benefits for in the form of reduced crime rates. Kenyon College saw instances of graffiti heavily decrease over the past year. During the 2017 Spring semester, while the pilot tests were being conducted, no incidents of graffiti were reported.
While it is important for schools to acknowledge student complaints, it is also the institution’s responsibility to keep its students safe. Ultimately, many campuses are going to choose the latter option in order to protect their students. By limiting access to residence halls to only resident students, universities are promoting a safer environment for their students, giving students the greater benefit of feeling secure and safe on their school’s campus.