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Board to vote on K-Card expansion plan

Board to vote on K-Card expansion plan

By Lauren Toole

When Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper announced that the College plans to extend its K-Card access system across campus at a recent meeting with the other heads of safety at the Five Colleges of Ohio, they all responded with three words.

“It’s about time.”

This weekend, a committee will present its proposal to install K-Card readers on most of the academic buildings on South Campus, plus Gund Commons and the Kenyon Athletic Center , before the Board of Trustees. The project will also include the addition of biometric readers to the locker rooms at the KAC. If approved, installation of K-Card readers could begin as early as next semester.

“Once everything gets ap- proved, we’re ready to move fairly quickly,” Hooper said. The current plan is to fit one building at a time with K-Card access, and then continue to move forward within the designated areas.

“We’re really excited about the expansion of the access system,” Hooper said. “Not only is that going to keep our buildings more secure, but also it still allows the students to have access to the areas that they need to have access to.” Science facilities are of particular concern. Currently locked at midnight, the buildings can only be opened for students by Safety officers after that time.

“It is a lot of man hours to turn a key in every one of those doors,” Hooper said. In addition, it puts a strain on Campus Safety’s available resources ラ requiring one of the two patrolling officers to unlock a door for students who call the office late at night.

Given last year’s rise in theft and vandalism, there is an increased need for every officer on shift to be available. Though Safety has made efforts to increase its visibility on campus and has stressed students should be vigilant and call Safety immediately in the event of suspicious activitiy, Hooper acknowledged other steps could be taken.

After a string of thefts in Peirce Hall last year, the College considered installing a camera in the coatroom of Peirce. After the persons responsible were apprehended, those discussions were suspended. While there is no current plan to install cameras, according to Hooper a number of students have expressed a desire for cameras in different locations. “I think right now the focus is getting the access system on, and then it’s just a progression of movement forward,” he said.

Denison University currently has cameras throughout their parking garage and other academic and public areas on campus. At Kenyon, the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives, the Gund Gallery and the KAC are all outfitted with cameras. Hooper was hesitant to advocate a campus-wide installation of cameras, citing the backlash when the K-Card readers were brought online.

Now, “it’s just the way it is,” he said.

Though cameras might not be the next option for the College, Hooper said, “You go almost anywhere and there’s cameras everywhere. The City of Mount Vernon has cameras everywhere.” With the amount of vandalism and theft that has occurred on campus ラ last year’s crime log recorded 15 instances of robbery, whereas in 2011 there were only two reports ラ there are certainly questions as to what the College’s next step should be in securing community safety.

Areas like Gund Commons and Olin Library are frequent targets for vandalism and theft. After significant damage was reported in Gund Commons over October Break, Safety will likely revert back to locking the south-facing doors to the building on weekend nights.

However, “It would be a real advantage to us to have” cameras in areas like Gund Commons, Hooper said. “Again, because that building seems to be a high target area, it would absolutely be beneficial.”

Dean of Students Hank Toutain agreed, but with a couple caveats. “As we’ve done in other areas, we should consider whether technology can help us address campus problems of theft and vandalism,” Toutain wrote in an email. “Although it’s naive to think that the installation of security cameras could completely eradicate theft and vandalism on campus, strategic installations might serve as deterrents to these behaviors and enhance Campus Safety’s ability to identify apparent perpetrators.”

He added, “Should we choose to add security cameras, I hope this move wouldn’t contribute to the abdication of personal responsibility for caring about our campus, and for holding one another accountable. Between us all, we’ve got a lot more eyes than we’ll ever have cameras.”

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