Locked doors on West Bank get mixed reviews

Many feel safer, but some still have concerns over the new program.

Roy Aker

It’s been a week since more than half a dozen buildings on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank limited their access in the wake of a series of violent crimes on and near campus.

Despite some initial concerns over the change — specifically in terms of who can access buildings during restricted hours — many say the tighter access is what the University needs.

“I think it’s a long time coming,” said Linda Lokensgard, departmental director of the University Law School. “If you look at the State Capitol and other important buildings, they don’t really have this wide, broad open access to the public without security behind it.”

The Building Access Pilot Program launched Feb. 3, requiring students, faculty and staff to swipe their U Cards to access buildings during specific hours.

By the end of the summer, University Services plans to expand the program to more West Bank buildings. It will also eventually include the East Bank.

Vice President of University Services Pamela Wheelock said Wednesday in an email to the University community that some people are confused about their access during restricted hours.

During those hours, buildings are closed to the general public and to the University community. Only those who have previously been granted permission to enter the building are allowed in.

“If you were able to swipe your U-Card and enter a building that was closed or locked last week, you will be able to enter that same building during restricted hours,” she said in the email.

Lokensgard — who frequents Mondale Hall on the West Bank — said though the change may be less convenient than before, increasing security and ensuring safety should take precedence.

University spokesman Tim Busse said some faculty members have voiced concern over not being able to walk through the closed buildings when it’s cold outside.

The University will likely use the feedback to revise the pilot program and plan its expansion, he said.

Kailin Clark, a graduate instructor in the Department of Economics, said many people expect buildings to be open at all times at a public university. But they must also realize increasing security is a trend at many college campuses, he said.

Clark said he knew of a student whose laptop was stolen in Hanson Hall, and Clark is pleased theft will decrease because of the stricter access.

“It’s nice to know that that’s less likely to happen now,” he said.