After the Halloween shooting that shook the community, student security has become a priority at USC.
Because of rash decisions made following the Halloween shooting on campus, it has become increasingly difficult for students to gain access to their dorm rooms. First, freshmen must swipe their student ID cards to get into the building. Second, students must go through a fingerprint scan at the front desk where they will receive the OK to swipe their ID cards once again to access the elevators.
Some new measures that the Dept. of Public Safety have implemented are effective, but it is important that school officials shift their security focus from residence halls to entrances around campus.
Though the new access policy in residence halls might slightly reduce theft in dorms, it has made it difficult for students to reach their dorms as well as interact with each other. If one forgets an item, it can take upwards of 10 minutes just to get to his or her dorm room. If students are advised to keep their doors locked at all times, there should theoretically be no thefts and consequently, a lack of necessity for heightened security. There are many effective ways to prevent crime and heighten safety in the residence halls without increased security, which is tedious for students and costly for administration.
It appeared ironic that it became more difficult for students to access their dorms following the injurious Halloween incident, during which a shooter, who was not affiliated with USC, fired near the center of campus. In all, however, it is important that DPS makes more of an effort to secure the campus’ entrances to proactively prevent danger from occurring on campus.
In the past, it was not uncommon to see a gate attendant taking a nap while on duty at night or looking on with disregard at those entering campus. Recently, however, DPS has become more active and has implemented new policies, such as having ID checkpoints from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. at eight heavily trafficked gates and closing off other entrances. Students and faculty can only hope that DPS will continue to play a larger role at the entryways as of Jan. 14, when the new measures went into effect.
With improvements made to perimeter security, it would be logical to lessen dorm room security. Though it is clear that DPS and Student Affairs prioritize student safety, it is also important that they see student satisfaction as a goal. It is often difficult for students to feel at “home,” however, when one is forced through a security checkpoint nearly akin to the Transportation Security Administration’s at LAX. Focusing our security measures on prevention of crime at the gate as opposed to prevention of crime beyond the gate, the feeling of security will heighten among students and faculty.
As with any other environment needing security, it is imperative that the university recognizes its security in depth. In other words, security efforts should begin off-campus with the Los Angeles Police Department, then at the campus perimeter, followed by on-campus patrols exercised by DPS and, lastly, the residence halls. It’s a logical conclusion that crime is managed at entry points, the inner levels of security, such as DPS and its protection of the residence halls, will require less concern and attention. USC is a home for thousands of students and faculty members, and it is important that realistic convenience is not compromised by endless security checkpoints.
Blake Bakkila is a freshman majoring in public relations.