Dorms increase security


On Monday, all USC residence halls began requiring students to not only present their student ID, but also to scan their fingerprint in order to gain entry to their building.

Students received an email informing them of the change on Nov. 5.

“As part of USC Housing’s continuing effort to make your residence safer, we will be installing fingerprint scanners at every building entry point. Once the units are installed, each resident will be required to show a valid ID card and to authenticate his/her identity via fingerprint biometrics,” the email read.

Students had four days to scan their fingerprint and picture at their local Customer Service Center during the week prior to the change. Currently, the fingerprinting only applies to on-campus housing, though officials are now considering implementing the system in off-campus USC housing, as well.

Guests are still allowed into the residences, but are required to leave a valid ID in exchange for a guest pass.

During normal CSC business hours on weekdays, student workers will scan fingerprints and collect IDs from guests. When front desks are closed, security personnel will take responsibility.

“From 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 [a.m.] Monday through Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday, we will have an outside security company staffing the ID checkpoints,” USC Housing Director Keenan Cheung wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan.

Michael Jackson, vice president for Student Affairs, said the changes are not related to an on-campus shooting that wounded four on Oct. 31.

“This is something we have been working on since probably the summer time,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the changes will prevent fewer unwanted guests from visiting the residence halls, especially during large on-campus events, such as tailgates.

“Now there is the technology available to allow us to ensure that the people who live there and who are invited by the people who live there get access to the residences,” Jackson said.

Students have reacted to the new policy with everything ranging from support to concern.

Though the cost of housing will not be affected by this change, Haylee Saathoff, a freshman studying print and digital journalism who resides in Webb Tower, said she didn’t see the need for the fingerprinting policy.

“I just don’t really understand what it’s supposed to do,” she said. “It seems like the money could be spent elsewhere.”

Another potential problem some students brought up is not being able to use certain stairwells. In Birnkrant Residential College, for example, students will no longer be allowed to use the stairs to access their rooms because the entrances to the stairwells are separate from the main lobby.

Birnkrant resident Asher Shasho-Levy, a freshman studying philosophy, politics and law, worried that this would infringe upon his daily routine, such as his weekly observance of religious holidays.

“I actually need the stairs, because as a Shabbat [Jewish Sabbath] observer, I’m not allowed to use electricity from Friday night to Saturday night,” he said.

Another issue that several students brought up was a concern for their privacy, though Cheung dismissed this fear.

“[Fingerprints] are stored locally on the specific device,” Cheung said. “There is no central storage dump. Computers are manned 24/7. These computers do not have access to Wi-Fi or the Internet and do not talk to one another. The program is encrypted as well.”

Despite some concern, other students were pleased with the new system.

“It’s better for the students’ safety and it’s better to be safe then sorry,” freshman Anna Lea Damir, who is majoring in chemical engineering (petroleum engineering), said.

 

Daniel Rothberg contributed to this report.

  • Ryan Kupyn

    So far, the new security policies have cunningly prevented crime by making the fingerprint verification so annoying that I avoid my dorm as much as possible, and ensuring that I take my phone and computer with me each morning when I leave so I can do my work at Doheny.