Students currently living in UW-Eau Claire’s residence halls received an email from Housing and Residence Life last week outlining new security procedures that will take effect next semester.
My reaction involved an extremely puzzled look and a mini-barrage of expletives.
According to this email, all residence hall side doors will be locked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is absolutely outrageous and entirely unnecessary. This makes life much harder for anyone trying to move into the building, because starting next semester, the only way anyone can get into a residence hall is to swipe their Blugold cards at the front door (or the two side doors at Towers Hall).
The email also says that residence hall students will have access to all residence halls via their Blugold card from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. From 10 p.m. until 9 a.m., residence hall students will have access only to their assigned residence hall via their Blugold card.
I work security at Putnam Hall at least four nights per week. From what I’ve observed, the concept of students having to use their Blugolds to enter the building at all instead of having the security worker let them in is a completely foreign concept in and of itself. I can’t imagine these cross-campus card swiping hours making this any easier.
But from a practical perspective, why do we even need this security clampdown? Statistics released by the University Police on Oct. 4 indicate that this is completely and utterly unnecessary.
The latest stats (from 2007-2009) show a total of four cases of forcible sexual assault and five cases of aggravated assault occurring in all on-campus student housing facilities over that three year period. Seven arrests were made during that span for weapons possession on campus, including just two in the residence halls back in 2007.
There have been no murders or manslaughter cases recorded on campus during that period. For that matter, violent crime statistics from neighborhoodscout.com show that the average person in Eau Claire has a 1-in-778 chance of being a victim of a violent crime, which is far below the Wisconsin average of 1-in-361.
So why are any of these security procedures necessary? Maybe Housing and Residence Life wanted to have security policies that are consistent across campus to prevent any irregularities from occurring.
My guess is that somebody overreacted to some incident that occurred somewhere far away from here, in a different on-campus environment, and thought this would be a good idea to prevent something like that incident from happening at this university. I don’t know. I’d say that’s a far more reasonable prediction than predicting an on-campus shooting to occur within the next three years.
Another thing I don’t understand is how and/or why the Residence Hall Association recommended these policies in the first place. I was on RHA for three semesters from Spring 2009 to Fall 2010. Nothing like this ever came up and, if it ever did, I highly doubt that these policies, or anything similar to them, would have been passed by RHA.
Eau Claire, as a whole, is quite laid back, and is among the safest campuses in the state. Why should we show the “just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you” mentality?
One other question I hope I never get an answer to is: What’s next? Are we going to start using card readers on all academic buildings? Why not just add some metal detectors? That seems to be the direction we’re heading towards, and none of this was even necessary to begin with.
Kris Kotlarik is a senior social studies secondary education and print journalism double major and Staff Writer at The Spectator.