Magazine article Security Management

Residence Hall Security 101

Magazine article Security Management

Residence Hall Security 101

Article excerpt

Residence Hall Security 101

Officials at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) in Indiana, PA, were hailed as leaders in 1972 when they elected to install a new, state-of-the-art electronic card access system in each of the university's 13 on-campus residence halls. It was an advanced system for the time, with cards that could not be duplicated the way an ordinary key could. It was, as they say, very high tech.

The university has remained one of the most up-to-date in the country in its efforts to provide a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff. By the late 1980s, however, it became apparent that the old card access system was no longer adequate. New technologies were becoming available almost daily, resulting in systems that made earlier vintages look like antiques.

At the same time, a rise in violence on campuses throughout the United States - specifically the brutal 1986 rape and murder of a coed at Lehigh University in eastern Pennsylvania - raised IUP officials' concerns about the adequacy of existing safety measures. These concerns, coupled with increased difficulty in obtaining parts to maintain the old system, spurred administrators to take a long, hard look at the situation.

The director of the Office of Housing and Residence Life conducted a thorough investigation of the security options available and contacted other campuses to inquire about their systems. The detailed research drew in part on lengthy conversations with personnel from several campus police departments and other offices of residence life, as well as visits to other campuses to examine their systems firsthand.

Once all the information was compiled, a meeting was held to explain the university's needs to manufacturers of campus security systems. Of the nine representatives who attended, six ultimately submitted formal proposals.

Guidelines for the proposals were strict. To be considered, each manufacturer had to address, in detail, every topic delineated on the request for proposal, including card reader technology, software, and installation as well as service and maintenance agreements.

The type of card technology to be chosen was one of the most important factors. The old system used a magnetic stripe insertion card, and the university examined Wiegand and proximity card technologies as well. The director of campus physical planning also wanted the new system to incorporate as much of the existing electrical door hardware as possible. Wiegand cards were chosen for flexibility and durability; the cards' construclay operation on the boards. To remedy the problem, an elaborate grounding network was installed and electronic suppression devices were placed on every input and output of each of the two operating panels.

The library's new security system is fully operational and the access control portion of the system got a dry run during the 1990 spring semester.

University officials are confident that the steps they have taken to prevent tragedy have been thorough and that the security system now in operation is top-of-the-line. In a short time, all of the remaining residence halls will be completed. The real test will come in the fall when the campus is back in full swing.

Southern Methodist University's 18 on-campus residence halls house approximately 2,600 students, about one third of the full-time student body. Out-of-town freshmen are required to live on campus. The halls are secured at midnight and remain locked until 7:00 am. An easy means of gaining access to the halls was important because of social activities and the late hours library and computer facilities are open.

When SMU, located in Dallas, began examining methods of key control in campus housing several years ago, the scope of the project did not include card access; the housing department researched card access and felt the cost was astronomical.

Consequently, a key control program was developed in 1987. …

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