GOCard Update Has Compromised Safety
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2012 00:03
Increased vulnerability is not an acceptable price for a community to pay for renovations.
During spring break, the university began updating the machines that scan GOCards, which are required for entry to dormitories and various other buildings around campus, with the intent of completing renovations while the majority of students were off campus. But a failure to properly prepare for technological problems during the overhaul reflects a lack of judgment on the university’s part in regard to campus security.
The update was incomplete when classes resumed Monday, and GOCard readers across campus began experiencing technical failures Tuesday. GOCard readers in East Campus, Copley Hall and the Southwest Quad remained nonfunctional for more than a day; some continued to experience problems through Thursday. The disorder that ensued was not only confusing and inconvenient for students but, more importantly, emblematic of a university failure to address security needs.
Unable to enter dorms, some students resorted to propping doors open with chairs or traffic cones. Such solutions put students at risk — and in areas of campus that have recently experienced crimes. With doors propped open and left that way overnight in some cases, an important layer of campus security was removed.
In light of an alleged sexual assault near the intersection of 36th and O Streets last month and recent burglaries that have been reported in Darnall Hall, White-Gravenor Hall, the Med-Dent Building and student townhouses, the Department of Public Safety should actively be seeking to ramp up security. From Jan. 11 to March 15 of this year, there have been 19 burglaries in total across campus. Eight of the 19 burglaries occured at the Medical Center alone this year. By comparison, there were three burglaries total last year and five the year before.
While DPS is not at fault for the problems with the GOCard readers — that blame lies with University Information Services — it had an opportunity and responsibility to respond to the issue adequately, yet it did not. While it is understandable that officers allowed doors to remain propped open so that students could get into their dorms, the university should have had a plan in place to provide alternative forms of security to buildings that were unable to use GOCard readers during parts of the transition process.
Increased presence of DPS officers in areas without functioning GOCard readers would have helped to ensure student safety while that regular layer of security was nonexistent. Such steps, however, were not taken. Thankfully, no incidents were reported in direct correlation with the security lapses, but the university’s negligence is still inexcusable. Technological failures happen, but when those failures threaten student safety, the university should demonstrate more thorough preparedness in its response.