Parents Weekend policy reignites dorm security talk
Dormitory security procedures during Parents Weekend have rekindled undergraduate resentment toward new security policies implemented at the beginning of the semester.
In a letter sent in October to undergraduate residence halls, Dan Roderick, the director of housing operations, stated that Residential Life & Dining collaborated with the Parents Association and security staff members to develop a policy aimed at facilitating families’ access to dorms.
“Starting at 8:00 am on Friday, October 24, 2014 and ending at 11:00 pm on Sunday, October 26, 2014, all families who have Parents Weekend name badges only need to present their name badge and a government-issued ID to the desk attendant for verification when entering any undergraduate residence hall. They will not need to be signed in,” said Roderick in the letter.
For MIT students and affiliates, normal security policies applied over Parents Weekend: those on a resident’s guest list were required to tap their IDs to enter dorms; others had to be personally escorted past security by a resident.
Many students criticized the more lenient protocol for parents during Parents Weekend.
In an email thread sent out to Random Hall and East Campus discussion forums and other relevant lists, Random Hall resident David Kaufman ’16 wrote, “Not all students are so accepting of surprise parental visits. And I’m sure most of us think that parents of non-Randomites don’t have any business walking into the building unaccompanied.”
“Not all students are comfortable having their parents enter their living space,” added Samuel Dukhovni ’17 in the same email thread, the various branches of which had 100 or more posts in total. “This could present serious risks to student security in the case of abusive parents.”
The discussion about dorm security during Parents Weekend expanded to related issues, such as having security cameras posted around the entrances of residence halls as well as difficulties faced by residents trying to enter their dorms without their student ID.
Students also brought up concerns about hired security guards replacing the student desk workers that some preferred in smaller dorm communities.
Many of the issues discussed centered around East Campus and Random Hall, but the conversation also included problems faced by MacGregor and Next residents.
A Facebook group called “MIT Dorm Security Is Broken” was created in September and has over 150 members. According to the group’s description, it is meant to help MIT students share their experiences with dorm security, as well as discuss potential policies to address aspects of dorm security many students dislike.
The creator of the Facebook group, Morris Alper ’16, said in an email to The Tech that he created the group because he felt that students from all dorms needed a forum to discuss improving dorm security. He added that the ongoing problems with dorm security are nothing new and that some students have not been able to access the MacGregor convenience store or have had to personally escort guests even if they were already on a guest list.
“I think it’s important for us to do this because as of yet the MIT administration has not been receptive to our complaints, and I want to show them that we are more than a few isolated individuals and that we have real constructive advice to give,” Alper said in an email to The Tech.
Dorm security was also the subject of a WMBR segment Monday evening.
A separate mailing list, firstname.lastname@example.org, was also created so that students could share their ideas about dorm security without adding to traffic on residence hall email lists.