In December, students approached Vanderbilt’s Project Safe with a complaint about the security swiping system in Warren and Moore College. Non-residential visitors could not exit the building without residential card access. Non-residents can ride the elevator down to the first floor, but they cannot exit through the main exit.
“The concern was that if someone had had an uncomfortable or non-consensual encounter and wanted to quickly exit the residence hall for safety that they may be deterred,” said Cara Tuttle Bell, the director of Project Safe.
Moore College’s entrance is on its first floor, which is a residential floor, and the elevators are inside that security perimeter. Non-residents, therefore, can only exit on the non-residential floor at the garage level, where an emergency exit is located. Project Safe presented this problem to Vanderbilt Residential Education, and after evaluating the complaint, the office has decided not to change the swiping system in Moore College.
“The leadership of the Office of Housing and Residential Education have discussed this situation and agree that there is no need to change access privileges for non-residents,” Jim Kramka, the director of housing operations, said. “Visitors who are frustrated at not being able to take the elevators or stairs to the first floor should have their host escort them to the first floor, in compliance with the policies of the Student Handbook.”
This case is a double-sided safety issue because providing residential floor access to non-residents poses a possible threat to the security of that floor.
“Safety and security in our residence halls if one of our foremost concerns,” Kamka said. “If students are not safe in their homes, we are not doing our jobs. To secure our residence halls from unauthorized entry from ill-intentioned strangers, faculty, staff, and students, Vanderbilt has committed itself to building access controls the restrict entry to buildings and to floors on which residents live. The card access system allows the housing office to permit access only to individuals authorized by the university have access privileges.”