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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Res Life adds locks to off-campus interest houses

<u walk to Jewett House for a Wednesday at WHOA or drop by Rice House to visit a friend, you may find yourself stalled at the front door.

This fall Carleton began the new locked door policy for interest and institutional housing.  Last year, depending on the houses, most doors were left unlocked mainly with the intent to provide all Carleton students access.  The switch occurred during the summer.  “Most houses were equipped with new door hardware (and some new doors) that allow us to keep them locked at all times and requiring residents to now use their keys to access the houses,” explained Director of Residential Life Steve Wisener.

Returning students may remember that around this time last year security reported “personal items of value stolen from a student’s locked vehicle, parked on a city street, and from multiple rooms of college-owned student housing” over the weekend of September 19-21, 2009. 

Director of Security Services Wayne Eisenhuth said, “While the burglaries/thefts in off-campus houses were a factor, the college is being proactive in trying to prevent future incidents of unauthorized entries into off campus student residences.”  Wisener added that ever since the installation of the access system in the resident halls, there has been increasing pressure from students, parents and faculty to make the student houses safer:  “Every year we’ve had incidents of theft from the houses…and more students requesting ways to have the houses locked. This past year we explored different options for getting the houses secured and the costs associated with the various options.”

Parish House—the largest student interest house and Carleton’s language interest house—continues to use the OneCard access system like the residence halls.  Hill House and Faculty Club were close to the existing wiring for the access system, so they were added as well.  The access system allows students to use their OneCards to enter designated buildings.  Faculty Annex Club and Clader House use OneCards as well, but theirs is an off-line access lock similar to the Village Apartments (the townhouses on the west end of campus) and the rooms in Cassat and Memorial.  “The other interest and institutional houses were put on the new [locked door] system. We needed to get the houses secured and we didn’t have the funding available to get all of the houses put on the on-line access system in one summer, so we chose this option,” said Wisener. 

Those students experiencing the new locked door system have mixed reactions.  Lizbee Collins-Wildman ’11, house manager and resident of Jewett House, the Wellstone House of Organization and Activism, understands the need for security, but stated that the new policy inhibits the functions of her house.  “The new system creates some difficulties when we host events at the house,” said Collins-Wildman.  “We strive to be as welcoming as possible to students who want to collaborate with us on activist projects. While the new lock system does not dramatically change our work as a house, it can be frustrating and disruptive to constantly be getting up to answer the door.”

When asked about the new policy, co-resident Nathan Yaffe ’11 joked, “We’ll call an emergency house meeting to discuss…as soon as we can get everyone through the locked front door.”
Other students, like Faculty Club resident Julia Larson ’13, are more supportive of the locked doors.  “I lived here during the summer when the door was left unlocked,” she said.  “Nothing happened, but someone could have easily walked in and taken anything.”

Semira Mohammed ’13 is a resident of Parish House, but has a friend living in Rice House. “She doesn’t have a phone either, so it’s frustrating when I have to I knock on the door to Rice and no one answers.”  Both Mohammed and Collins-Wildman agree that it would be better if all of the houses were on the access system like Parish.

In response to initial student frustrations, Wisener added, “We experienced the same type of push back when we initially locked the residence halls, when not all students had access to the Village Apartments, and when we installed automatically locking room doors in Cassat and Memorial.  We feel that student safety is of the utmost importance and that we can work together to find ways to live with these new locks.”

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