University works to improve residence hall security

Three yearsâÄô worth of residence hall security upgrades are nearly halfway done, just months after they began. The decision to expedite the updates from a three-year process to six months came after four University students reported in April that they were raped . One of those instances occurred in Pioneer Hall. There was also an April report of one student being sexually molested in Middlebrook Hall . The reports shook the University campus, as they accounted for the most rapes reported on campus in four years. Many residence halls adopted temporary solutions after the reports, such as additional security monitors. Director of Central Security Robert Janoski said an additional 110 security cameras and six card readers are being installed in campus residence halls. There will also be more security patrol around the halls late at night . Janoski said the improvements, which total $750,000, will be completed by January. Pioneer Hall has also undergone additional changes since May. Residents are now limited to two entrances as opposed to last year when they could enter through 18 different doors, including entrances and fire doors. Janoski said residents are still able to exit out the fire doors, adding that if students allow people to enter as they are leaving, it defeats the security measures that were taken . Janoski said between $200,000 and $250,000 is spent annually to maintain security system-wide . This can range from changing a battery to updating other components. âÄúI am really impressed with their responsiveness,âÄù Vice Provost of Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart said of Central SecurityâÄôs current progress to make the residence halls more secure. âÄúWe are doing everything we can.âÄù Director of Housing and Residential Life Laurie McLaughlin , who worked with Janoski on the security updates, said that even after they are completed, talks will continue over what the next improvements should be. While McLaughlin cited more external cameras as one security initiative she would like to pursue , she added that a big part of security is to educate students on being safe. One way sheâÄôs working to educate University housing residents is through classes that emphasize safety tips. For example, she said current first-year students were required to attend a session on safety during Welcome Week . First-year student Emily Koxlien said the information she received during Welcome Week was worth it, especially as students are learning to live on their own for the first time. Much of the information was common sense, she said, but added that sometimes itâÄôs hard to follow all of the tips âÄî such as to not allow tailgating. âÄúItâÄôs hard to not let people in behind you,âÄù Koxlien said. âÄúYou donâÄôt want to be a jerk.âÄù She said she felt residence hall security only works if students and the University each do their parts. If she locks her door, for example, she said she would assume the University has installed a working lock that will keep her safe. Similarly, University police Chief Greg Hestness said there needs to be a partnership between students, faculty and police. Hestness said while the University has 270 buildings and around 80,000 people on campus every day, there is only a budget for 53 officers . âÄúWe are not going to be in every building,âÄù Hestness said. Hestness added that itâÄôs important for people to be aware of their surroundings and call authorities if they see something suspicious.