On Tuesday, Feb. 17, NMU tested a new, and more secure, entry system for the dorm buildings and the Woodland Apartments. While the new card-based entry system had a price tag of nearly $500,000, The North Wind applauds the university on a much-needed improvement to campus life.
The system, which will allow students to enter the dorms with their NMU ID card, will also inform NMU Housing and Residence Life of who enters the dorms. But the most positive aspect of the new system is that it will allow the university to electronically lock all of the dorm doors at a moment’s notice and with the push of a button. This means that if there is ever a threat at NMU, such as an active shooter, on-campus residence buildings will be locked down within minutes.
In the wake of the tragic shootings at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and Virginia Tech within the last two years, it had become obvious that a lock-down system is an invaluable feature that NMU was lacking. And while there is virtually no crime at NMU, the NIU campus is located in DeKalb, Ill., a city with a population of about 40,000 – not much larger than Marquette.
Though the new entry system is a step in the right direction, there is more that can be done to make NMU a safer university. Considerations should be taken to implement the same type of lock-down system for the academic buildings on campus, where most students are during the day. On top of this, NMU may be well-served to place surveillance cameras in parking lots and outside of dorms.
And though it would clearly be irresponsible to demand these changes be made during an economic recession, they should still be kept in mind as the university moves forward.
The university may also find assistance in a bill currently making its way through Congress. H.R. 748, which passed the House on Feb. 3, would establish a National Center for Campus Public Safety in Washington, D.C. The bill simply needs Senate approval and a presidential signature. The center would be controlled by the U.S. Justice Department.
A centralized government body should help colleges from around the country to understand and deal with threats to the university or student population. The plan would be for the center to also offer grants to universities for security training and research.
Hopefully Northern could use such a center to continue making progress in the area of campus safety.