Virginia State University will now be conducting random ID checks on its St. Petersburg campus. Accompanying the credential checks will be better lighting, more police patrols after dark and additional cameras to monitor the campus.
These were the prescriptions posed after the university consulted with the Wilmington, Delaware-based Powhatan Group. As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the security consultancy comes after two separate incidents this fall in which one student was stabbed and another was fatally shot.
The concern for university officials with regards to its new security measures, however, is how far the university can go to limit access to a public campus. Additionally, officials have discussed whether the ID spot checks would result in accusations of annoyance or infringe on privacy.
For now, the university’s police department will add two additional full-time personnel to assist with the ID checks.
The university has also added to its more than 250 cameras scattered throughout campus, but the consultants’ report found that some were not working and a few facilities did not have camera coverage at all.
Open access to campus was deemed a security risk by students, faculty and staff following focus group meetings with the consulting firm. Being a public institution, Virginia State University officials maintain that some level of openness must be preserved.
The challenge, however, is how best to balance the demand for openness with the need for security.