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Campus News

Are new locks the key to campus safety?

Elizabeth Gunto, staff writer

The dormitory doors now have new locks, which must be activated by students’ ID cards. Before, anyone who had the numerical code could access the dormitories. The  Resistance Intervention Safety Empowerment (RISE) Project, led by Kelly Kelbel, spent around $30,000 on the new ID locks. The money came from a government grant.

Last year there were several incidents of people with criminal backgrounds staying on campus. Due to this, some people feel that the new locks are important to protect the community. However, others feel that the ID locks were a waste of money. The opponents point out that there are unlocked back doors in several buildings that can still be accessed.  Also, students often prop open the locked doors. Some students are also frustrated that they cannot get into their dorms without their IDs if they forget to bring the IDs with them.

Kelbel explained why the new locks were put in.

“I have worked with students who were experiencing stalking by off campus folks, some of them ex-partners, and easy access to where they live was terrifying to them,”she said. “Having secured, locked doors is another way to support people in our community.”

Kelbel said that the new locks will make for a safer campus if the system is working effectively. An effective system means that the students are able to gain access to the residence halls, and no doors are propped open. This increased security of the buildings is beneficial to our community. However, she pointed out that the new locks are not an immediate fix for violence and stalking on campus. She stated that the majority of sexual assaults and stalking on campus are committed by Warren Wilson students, and we must remember that sexual violence is still a problem at Warren Wilson College, with or without the locks.

“Secured buildings will prevent some instances of violence, though not all. To work toward a violence free community, we need to shift the way that we think about sex, relationships, gender, privilege and oppression, nurture healthy relationships & communication, and no longer accept abuse as normative,” Kelbel said.

Terry Payne, director of Public Safety, agreed that the new locks will make the campus safer if students start using the front door instead of back doors and stop propping the doors open.

“The locks will work when people realize they need to use the front door, not back doors,” Payne said.

“Part of me feels safer that people need their IDs to get in, but I think it’s pointless when people prop the door open to get in. I think that [propping the door open] makes it easier for someone to get inside,” Junior Callie Baruch said.

Another issue is whether off-campus students should be allowed access to dormitories. Caucus voted that off-campus students can have access to dormitories, meaning their ID cards are activated. However, some people feel that letting off-campus students have access to dormitories invites dangerous people to come onto campus.

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