EVANSTON, Ill. --- Secondary doors at most Northwestern University undergraduate residential units are now locked and equipped with alarms 24 hours a day. The alarms, reprogrammed during spring break, will be set off if someone opens those doors at any time.
The alarm system is the first phase of a comprehensive program to strengthen security and safety features of residential buildings on the Evanston campus. An extensive study determined that building access control was one of several improvements needed to enhance security for students. Other security features, developed from the comprehensive analysis by University officials and a security consulting firm, will be implemented over the summer.
“Northwestern is committed to providing as secure a living environment as possible for all of our resident students on campus,” said William J. Banis, vice president for student affairs. “We believe the steps we are taking provide the best possible balance between individual convenience and community safety.”
The review of residential hall security followed several incidences of intruders in residence halls that began in fall 2005. University Police determined that the intruders gained access as students entered or left their buildings.
Five residential units have been granted exemptions to the secondary door alarm system. Exceptions are considered by a committee made up of representatives of Undergraduate Residential Life, Housing, University Police, Residence Hall Association, Residential College Board and Associated Student Government. Residential units may apply to the committee for exceptions.
The main door on most halls will continue to be locked at all times as they are now. For the six halls with dining facilities, the main door will be unlocked during the day, but doors leading to the floors will continue to be locked at all times.
University Police Chief Bruce A. Lewis said other security and safety enhancements would be completed prior to the opening of the 2007-08 academic year in September, including community service officers, closed-circuit television cameras and additional police officers.
Student monitors who had been employed in the large residence halls will be replaced with full-time community service officers who will be employed and supervised by University Police. The new personnel will monitor the main entrance from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Twenty-two officers will be assigned to 11 residential units that have 150 or more residents.
Closed-circuit television cameras will be installed in main entrances of all residence halls. The cameras should help deter unauthorized entry and reduce incidents of students permitting others to follow them into the residence hall after the student has unlocked the door, Chief Lewis said. The system will also enable monitoring of residence halls that do not have a community service officer at the entrance and will provide a record of who entered the building at a specific time or day for use if an incident does occur.
University Police has hired three additional police officers and one sergeant whose primary assignment will be the external security of the residence hall areas and the safety education of students and staff. The new officers will patrol student residential areas, conduct security checks and work with students and the Residential Life staff to strengthen and maintain effective security practices.