Dorms to get new locks next year

Shawntaye Hopkins

Although Mark Zielke feels safe in his fifth floor room in Poland Hall, it isn’t because he knows unwanted visitors won’t get past the desk clerks.

“Anybody can get in here,” said Zielke, a freshman from Saint Joseph, Mich.

Zielke said Poland visitors don’t have to walk directly past the front desk, where they are required to show their IDs, because there is a quick left turn they can make to get to the stairs.

The possible assault of a student yesterday morning in Poland has spawned changes to heighten safety for the dorm’s 310 residents.

While campus police already make regular visits to dorms, an officer will be posted in Poland this week as an immediate step to protect residents, said Brian Kuster, director of Housing and Residence Life.

More changes are to come.

He said doors in dorms that have not yet been renovated cannot be locked 24 hours a day because it is a fire safety hazard – firefighters wouldn’t be able to get into the building.

There is a remedy.

Poland will have magnetic locks placed on its doors when it is renovated in the spring 2004.

Magnetic locks allow dorm doors to be automatically unlocked by housing staff from the front desk. The doors are kept locked, forcing students to use their keys to enter the building.

“It added a higher level of security,” Kuster said.

McLean, Northeast, Southwest and Bemis Lawrence halls already have magnetic locks.

But there are other safety guidelines and regulations that dorm residents have, but don’t always follow.

Desk clerks can monitor anyone leaving or entering the dorms 24 hours a day, Kuster said. There are also cameras over each of the exits that go back to monitors at the front desks, he said.

Kuster said clerks check the ID of all students.

But that isn’t always the case in Poland, Zielke said.

“If they know who you are they’re not going to ask you,” he said.

Zielke said Poland staff re-emphasised the need to show IDs at the beginning of the semester, but their fervor died off after the first month.

There are signs in Poland’s lobby telling residents to show their IDs at the front desk, he said.

Zielke said he shows his ID but doesn’t feel its required from staff.

Louisville freshman Robert Ashby, who lives on the sixth floor of Poland, said it isn’t necessary for clerks to ask for IDs if they know the resident.

Ashby said clerks do a fairly good job about checking IDs of people they don’t know.

Mary DeGraw, hall director of Pearce-Ford Tower, said residents who don’t show their IDs or let other students use them to get into the building could be creating an unsafe enviornment.

“(The rules) are only as effective as students allow them to be,” she said.

Housing and Residence Life will participate in a meeting this summer to discuss current safety precautions taken in the dorms and possible changes to the system, Kuster said.

“It’s not 100 percent, but it’s a safe system,” he said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]