Access to Pomona’s new north campus residence halls, which will begin housing students in the fall, may be limited to residents of the residence halls under new access restrictions proposed by the Dean of Students office in response to concerns about theft and trespassing. If the access restrictions go through, access to residential floors in the new residence halls will be limited to only the students that live in those floors.
“The goal is to make the residential halls more secure,” said Housing Director Deanna Bos, who added that the idea for the access restrictions arose out of a campus-wide conversation about security in the residence halls.
“There has been discussion in the broader range in terms of best practices, and we’re obviously looking into newer technology,” she said.
Under the new access restrictions, there will be three layers of swipe card readers in the newly constructed Sontag Hall and yet-to-be-named Building B, which are composed entirely of suites and which will collectively house 150 students. All Pomona students’ ID cards will grant them access to the common areas of the residence halls, including the lounges and a rooftop garden. Additional card readers will be located outside the entrances to each hallway and each suite within those hallways. Under the new access restrictions, only students living on the second floor of Sontag Hall or Building B will have access to that floor, and only students living in a suite on that floor will have access to that suite.
The access restrictions, which were proposed without student input, have drawn criticism from some students who claim that they could actually increase opportunity for theft and that they may stifle Pomona’s communal environment.
“It will only lead to more problems,” said ASPC North Campus Representative Caroline Rubin PO ‘12. “When someone is dropping something off or visiting you, you’ll have to walk all the way down the hall to let them in. People will start propping doors open… It goes against the whole Pomona spirit, where you’re living in a hall and meeting people around you.”
Rubin also said that the new policy might be targeting the wrong audience.
“Most thefts aren’t other students trying to break into rooms,” she said. The two trespassers who gained access to residence halls on south campus earlier this semester did not use ID cards to enter the buildings, but instead followed students inside or asked to be let in.
In response to the access restrictions, Rubin and ASPC South Campus Representative Ian Gallogly PO ’13 drafted a statement earlier this week calling for the removal of access restrictions on the hallways in the new residence halls.
“We’re proposing that the first two swipes [that will grant access to the common areas and the hallways] be universal,” Rubin said.
Both the ASPC Residence Hall Committee and the ASPC Senate have endorsed the statement, and the Students Affairs Committee (SAC) will discuss it today.
Gallogly said he hoped the SAC meeting would yield productive conversation on the role of access restrictions in the residence halls.
“I think it’s important to remember that the proposed access restrictions would affect students first and foremost, and students should therefore be consulted before this moves forward,” Gallogly said. “It’s in the students’ interest to make the residence halls secure, but it’s also in our interest to preserve the social environment that we love about Pomona.”
Gallogly added that representatives from Campus Safety have expressed opposition to the new access restrictions on the grounds that it could lead to more door-propping.
Administrators at Pomona said that they were aware of some of the student concerns surrounding the access restrictions.
“There are discussions going on about the [restrictions] possibly hindering intellectual exchange,” said Campus Life Coordinator Andrew “Froggy” Castro.
However, Castro added that the new access restrictions would be similar to security measures already in effect in some north campus Pomona residence halls. Since the renovations two years ago, students living in Norton-Clark and Clark III have been given the option to restrict access to their hallways if the residents of those hallways collectively choose to do so.
“Lawry has general access, unless a resident wants to restrict it by floor or by suite and instead select specific people who can gain access,” Castro said. “That might be an option for the new dorm.”
According to Castro, the administration has discussed the possibility of extending access restrictions to other residence halls on campus, including the south campus residence halls.
“Questions do come up in terms of consistency,” he said.