U Police balancingcampus security,open access policy

Paul Sanders

Although University Police are reevaluating their security measures after a woman fired a shot into the ceiling of University President Nils Hasselmo’s office Tuesday, they don’t want to overreact.
Little could have been done to prevent the incident, said University Police Chief Joy Rikala. And University security procedures are similar to those in place at other Big Ten universities.
Increasingly violent surroundings are causing University Police to examine security issues, Rikala said. “We have to realize this environment is changing because our society is changing.”
In March 1995, former University researcher David Costalupes fatally shot himself in the head at University Hospital after attempting to reach Interim Medical School Dean Shelly Chou. Costalupes apparently held a grudge against a former Medical School professor because of a dispute involving research he had done with the professor in the mid-1980s.
But Rikala labeled Tuesday’s incident exceptional. “The first thing people want to do in a situation like this is to overreact,” she said.
Although violence on campus is a problem, she said she did not wish to see every University building staffed with a security guard at the entrance and access restricted to people carrying U Cards. “I hope we never come to that.”
About 10 buildings on campus have U Card security access systems said John Stearns, director of the U Card Office. He said the University Recreation Center requires a U Card to access the building during regular business hours. Although “the technology is there,” he said, that might not be desirable for other campus buildings.
Susan Riseling, police chief for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, contacted Rikala after Tuesday’s incident. Riseling described the Morrill Hall incident as “highly unusual” and could not recall any similar incidents occurring at the University of Wisconsin.
The Madison campus, with 43,000 students and 17,000 employees, is similar in size to the University of Minnesota and faces similar security concerns. Riseling said, “You have to balance access issues with basic, fundamental security issues.
“Because we are a public institution, our buildings are open to the public and that’s pretty standard.”
Riseling said the only exceptions to that rule are University of Wisconsin animal laboratories, which have restricted access because of past incidents involving animal rights activists.
Greg Zawiza, a spokesman for university relations at Purdue University, said security precautions in Purdue’s administration building are similar to those at Morrill Hall.
The president’s office at Purdue is also on the second floor of a building that houses other administrative offices. The offices are open to the public and there are no regular security guards or metal detectors. “There is not any particular enhanced security in that building,” Zawiza said.