New entry system not worth the cost

Lucy Hough

Students who live in the dorms make every effort to make the 12×12 space as home-like as possible with colorful rugs and posters. However, the new entry system that has been installed in on-campus housing will make living in residential halls and the Woodland apartments more difficult. The new system uses card swiping technology to allow students to enter the building and keys will soon be obsolete for entering when the doors lock at night. However, students will still be expected to use their keys to enter their individual rooms.

During a time when budget cuts are being proposed across the board at Northern, this installation costs $485,000, a process that began in June with the installation and activation of the system. Housing and Residence Life’s justification for this move is to make the buildings more secure, because with this new technology the doors have the ability to be locked simultaneously. This, along with the text and e-mail alert systems, was put into place in order to allow for more safety measures should a dangerous situation arise on campus. Though the safety implications are clear, the hassle and cost are overwhelming.

Northern is looking at cutting $10 million out of the general budget, and all departments need to be aware of the money they spend. A price tag like this needs to be evaluated for its importance and avoided if unnecessary.

Students will have to carry their cards and keys with them in the evenings. To a student who has already lost her ID card three times since the beginning of the year, I am dreading this change. With more use of the card, I am guaranteed to lose it more often, and replacements, though initially cheap, add up quickly at $15 per lost card.

Those living in these buildings, including the resident advisers (RA), have been surprised by this change. No formal announcement has been made that tests would be held or that the systems are working. This oversight is making it difficult to know when it is necessary to carry one’s ID card.

In addition to the hassle that is caused by having to carry two means of entry, the system has proved faulty thus far. In a number of instances, students’ keys have not been read correctly, and they are denied entry, according to RAs in Van Antwerp who have received complaints. Students are then left standing in the lobby until someone will let them in or they contact someone to help. This creates an obvious inconvenience, but it is a breach on the safety that Northern is proud of. When students are letting those denied by the system into the dorms, it negates the purpose of the locks. Though the problems are being assessed, more could arise after the full implementation of the system.

Though it is worthwhile that all doors can be locked at the same time, these safety precautions do not outweigh the obstacles students face upon entering their buildings. It is my hope that Housing and Residence Life can solve the glitches by making the systems better functioning, and making them the only option for getting through the doors. Living in cramped dorms is hard enough, students should not have to struggle to get into the buildings as well.