Changes on Campus: A Matter of Security
Last semester, returning Dickinson students were required to replace their old Student IDs with new ones as part of the college's new security system. Questions swirled among students about what the new security system entails and how it would affect student life. There were rumors that access to campus buildings would be restricted or curtailed. Department of Public Safety Chief Dolores Danser explains that this is not true. The new system “won't restrict student access at all,” she says. “It's about protecting those who belong from people who don't.”
The new security system is expected to be up and running in a number of campus buildings by the end of the semester. The HUB, library, Weiss, and Kline Center will all be accessible through an electronic scanner that reads the student IDs and unlocks the doors. During the day, the buildings will remain open to the public. Only in the evening will the cards be necessary for student access. Danser says that nothing will change with student access to the buildings. The HUB, for example, will still be open 24 hours a day.
Danser says that the security system was already in the works before the Virginia Tech shootings in the spring of last year, but that the tragedy lead to the project being “fast-tracked.” The new science building, for example, has been built with the new system in mind from the beginning.
The older campus buildings have encountered some delays with installation. “There were some setbacks in retrofitting buildings, hardware, and ordering of parts,” said Danser, preventing the system from being up and running at the beginning of this semester as planned. The new system is, however, already working at 25-27 West High Street and the college's offices in downtown Carlisle.
Danser says that the new card-access system is separate from Red Alert, the campus alert service that began last fall. That service, which contacts students, faculty, and staff about campus alerts and emergencies through text-messaging, e-mail, and IMs, is a more direct response to the VA Tech shootings. It has also been used to inform the college community about incidents such as extreme weather.
Danser admits that new security measures like card-access can't actually prevent violence from occurring on Dickinson's campus, but it allows a faster security response. When the system is eventually implemented in other campus buildings, like Old West and other classrooms, all of the college buildings can be remotely locked down in the case of a crisis, limiting an intruder's access and allowing DPS greater control over campus facilities.
In the end, it's really up to the Dickinson community to help make the college safe. “Everyone needs to be observant as good citizens,” says Danser, but adds that the security here at Dickinson is already top-notch. “We had CCTV in effect years before most of our peer-schools,” she says, “the DPS staff has increased, and we share many resources with Carlisle police.” The new card-access system, when it goes into effect, will be another tool the college has to improve safety and security on campus.