Security upgrades have been made to residence halls around campus since last semester.

After 5 p.m. on weekdays and any time on weekends, main residence hall doors to the area desk dorms are locked to anyone without a Flashcard. 

The side entrances to dorms are now also closed to anyone that is not a resident of the respective hall, forcing visitors to use the main entrance.

Inside the Tri-Towers rotunda is the office of John Hummell, assistant director of safety and security.

“We made these changes in August,” Hummell said. “We’ve been talking about it for a few years. We wanted to make it consistent with our other halls ... and also to enhance security, but at the same time, keep our residence hall spaces available to our residence hall students, which is why we added the Flashcard access to the four area desks 24 hours a day.”

Students that live on campus have complete access to main entrances using their Flashcards, but off-campus and commuter students are subject to the new hours.

“In the past, the main doors to the halls where our four area desks are were open during area desk hours from 8 a.m. until 4 a.m. Now in the halls where we have area desks, the main doors are open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. during the week.”

The four area desk residence halls include the Tri-Towers Rotunda, Stopher, Twin Towers and Dunbar. 

“We also added intercoms at those desks,” Hummell said. “So, after 5 p.m. if the desk is open and a student doesn’t have their Flashcard but needs to get into the hall to talk to someone at the desk, they can communicate with the student desk receptionist or SDRs via the intercom any time that the desk is open but the doors are locked.”

Sophomore organizational communication major and Tri-Towers RA Sarah Bihn finds the security upgrades to be a minor inconvenience.

“It’s kind of annoying, especially because only the one door opens going into the Tri (Rotunda),” Bihn said. “It’s automatic, so you have to wait for it to open and go in and it’s awkward because everybody’s waiting for it to open.”

Students that used the side doors of Tri-Towers to cut through the building are also at a loss with the new security system if they do not live in the towers.

“Sometimes students expect the side doors to the rotunda (to be) unlocked and they’re not, so I’ve redirected students to use (their) Flashcard to get into the main entrance to the rotunda where the front desk is,” Hummell said. “I think a lot of students used that as a shortcut to get through so they wouldn’t have to walk around one of the three Tri Towers.”

In addition to the four area desks, the main entrances to Korb for Resident Services and Van Campen for the Office of Global Education are open to students from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week. 

“We also accommodated for tutoring,” Hummell said. “During tutoring hours, all Kent State students have Flashcard access to the Manchester Hall door closest to room 108 where we have tutoring. The same goes for Prentice. So, during tutoring hours, the Prentice main lobby, the first floor hallway doors and doors to the first floor lounges where we have the tutoring are open to all Kent State students with a Flashcard. We didn’t want to restrict anyone’s access to tutoring.”

Recent events such as an indecent man visiting sorority houses and a sexual assault incident have had many students on heightened alert around campus.

“I don’t feel any less safe, but I definitely know that it’s going on,” Bihn said. 

To stay safe, Bihn carries pepper spray and calls for a security escort back to her residence hall when needed.

“I never really walked around by myself,” Bihn said. “I always had friends or a security escort and, of course, I never take any shady back alleyways.”

Freshman early childhood education major Emma Wolfe appreciates the added security measures in the dorms.

“It feels more secure that way,” Wolfe said of the extra swiping. 

The Kent State Campus Safety webpage boasts the university’s ranking as the 25th safest campus in the country as of 2018.

Wolfe gave Kent State an 8 out of 10 in safety around campus as it is “well lit up and you can get an escort if you want to.”

“Because I’m a freshman, it’s still a little uneasy, but I think once I get more used to campus it’ll be better,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe feels safe on campus overall, but knows the limitations of the swiping system.

“Anyone can get into the dorms because people let just anyone in,” Wolfe said. “I think (security is) doing as much as they can.”

The security upgrades make it more difficult for non-residents to enter the buildings, but they do not stop everyone.

“I feel like if someone really wanted to get in, they could just sneak in behind somebody,” Bihn said.

To combat this, security aides and RAs make rounds through the residence halls every night to ensure the safety of each residence hall.

Security aides patrol and escort from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Security hours are from 8 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday.

Students can request an escort by calling the Campus Escort Service (672-7004).

Contact Hannah Gooch at hgooch1@kent.edu.

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