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UMN to add locks to residence hall bathrooms

HRL announced they are adding locks to residence hall bathrooms so students can access them only with their dorm room keys, while MSA advocates for using U Cards instead of keys.
Image by Andrew Stoup
Frontier Hall on Monday, Nov. 8 2021.

The University’s Housing and Residential Life (HRL) committee plans to add locks to all residential hall bathrooms for increased security.

Over this upcoming summer, locks will be added to all main bathroom doors at Frontier Hall, Centennial Hall, Territorial Hall, Pioneer Hall, Comstock Hall, Bailey Hall and 17th Avenue Hall, according to Susan Stubblefield, interim director of Housing and Residential Life in an emailed statement. The decision comes after three incidents occurred during the past academic year at Frontier Hall, Comstock Hall, and Territorial Hall bathrooms.

“With feedback from our residents and parents, we determined that adding locks to residential bathrooms would provide extra security in buildings that did not have locks on community bathroom entrance doors,” Stubblefield wrote in the email.

Dorm residents access the bathrooms with their room keys, Stubblefield said in an email to the Minnesota Daily.

The University’s Minnesota Student Association (MSA) is pushing for HRL to have bathrooms accessible by U Cards instead, according to the MSA resolution written by first-year student and CLA Student Senator Daniel Tobias and second-year student and Infrastructure Committee Director Shashank Murali.

The resolution concerns “the installation of U-Card restricted access on residence hall bathroom entrance doors and the installation of full-length stall doors in residence hall bathrooms.”

Murali said there were some flaws that his committee saw in the current HRL plan for the locking mechanism. A couple of examples, Murali said, are that there could be faults with the keys and keys could get stuck in the locks easily.

“It felt like HRL was doing the bandaid effect,” Murali said. “It felt like they weren’t really addressing the issue we have around bathroom security.”

Murali added that most students carry their U Cards on them, so having U Card access to the bathrooms would be convenient and efficient for students.

Tobias said MSA’s U Card plan would give all students access to every bathroom in their respected residence hall, including male and female bathrooms, and would “be more inclusive” of gender nonbinary students in the residence halls.

In response to HRL’s possible reason for keys instead of U Cards, Murali said that conversations between MSA and HRL lead him to believe that someday in the future the University will tear down older residence halls to rebuild and renovate, so spending more to provide U Card access would not be financially beneficial.

Dorm residents who are living in the seven residence halls mentioned can expect to see locks on the main entrance to the bathrooms next fall.

“HRL is working with Facilities Management to install locks to the bathroom entrance doors this summer,” Stubblefield wrote. “Due to the lead time for materials given the current challenges in the supply chain, we expect the project will be completed by the end of the summer.”

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