Visiting a friend’s dorm just got a little easier. Spurred by student complaints of not being able to access other campus residences, the university has changed its residence hall access policy.

A broadcast e-mail was sent to the campus community about the changes on Wednesday from Spiros Dimolitsas, senior vice president and chief administrative officer, and Todd Olson, interim vice president of student affairs.

Beginning next Friday, all faculty, students and staff members with a GOCard can enter residence halls by swiping their card through a reader near the entrance from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

After 9 p.m., all visitors must be signed in by a resident of the hall they wish to enter. Residents will have to swipe their GOCard through an inside card-reader, usually at the security desk in order to be admitted to the building.

The policy will go into effect on a trial basis until the end of the semester. Off-campus undergraduates can make arrangements with the Office of Off Campus Life to have access to campus dorms.

“The bottom line, I think it’s a change that should’ve been instituted a semester ago,” Dan Eyler (COL ’05) said.

According to administration officials, the policy changes reflect concerns about fostering community while maintaining campus safety. “The impetus is behind the concerns that students raised last year in terms of inability to be able to visit their friends,” Darryl Harrison, interim director of the Department of Public Safety, said.

In addition to not being able to visit friends, some students were unable to access community facilities, like St. Williams Chapel in Copley Hall, if they were not residents of that hall.

“GUSA has been saying for a year that the restrictive access policy currently in effect has been detrimental to our sense of community and has been ineffective,” GUSA President Brian orgenstern (COL ’05) said.

“The policy is being implemented on a trial basis in order to gauge student willingness to abide by the new guidelines and to take responsibility for safety issues,” Laura Cavender, director of media relations, said. “Some issues, especially the propping open of external doors, have been a security concern for some time and these new guidelines allow students to be part of the solution.”

The trial period also attempts to address vandalism, which has been a recurring problem in residence halls. “If increased incidents of vandalism and related violations occur during this semester, we will return to a more restrictive access policy,” the broadcast e-mail said.

Eyler believes the university’s concerns about vandalism are valid.

“People in Copley would yank exit signs out of the ceiling and bang up elevators,” Eyler, who lived in Copley last year, said of his former Copley room. “9 p.m. is a good time because you don’t have intoxicated people getting in.”

Eyler also said the changes address the motives for why students prop doors. Now that it’s easier to enter, he hopes door propping will stop so damage won’t be done to them.

The trial period will show whether or not there is a decrease or increase in door propping and vandalism.

Harrison said he thinks the trial period will give the university the chance to find a lockdown policy that can balance safety with student concerns. “It allows us to assess it, adjust it and look at the impact on it,” he said.

Morgenstern said that the new policy was originally slated to start sooner than Sept. 12 but more time was needed to make the necessary changes called for by the new policy. The hiring and training of student guards could not be completed by an earlier date, Cavender explained.

In some apartment complexes, including Alumni Square, Henle Village and Village A, no changes to the policy will take place because of the layout of the building – each building can be accessed from multiple points of entry.

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