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New House Seeks Reliable Key-cards

The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to Lawrence Maguire, director of the Office of Housing and Food Services:

New House residents have been complaining to the New House government about a couple aspects of the new key-card system.

First, although we appreciate the safety issues, it seems rather awkward to have no way of unlocking the courtyard doors from outside. In past years, the courtyards have been used for numerous sports and social activities, which are now hampered by the fact that the doors can no longer be opened from the outside, not even with the key-cards. In the winter, this discourages people from using the courtyards entirely. In the summer, we fear that people will leave the doors open. No doubt some will accidentally remain open and "undesirables" will wander in from the streets as they have in the past. Furthermore, should anyone be accidentally trapped in a courtyard, their only options would be to climb the wall onto Memorial Drive (a feat not all residents can manage) or to pound on a door until someone lets them in. If this becomes a common occurrence, students might let in "undesirables" by accident, mistaking them for residents trapped outside. Given this problem we would suggest that key-cards be installed on the court-yards, or that the DRA key locks be reinstalled.

Second, as New House is the only dorm to house Independent Living Groups, we are faced with a unique dilemma. These ILGs consist of both New House residents and non-resident members. Under the new key-card system, non-resident members cannot gain access to the dorm without the help of another individual, be it the front desk, night watch, or Campus Police. We question whether the real intent of the key-card system is to protect residents from fellow MIT students rather than from unwelcome outsiders. Since the ILGs give these non-resident members the right to visit their ILGs at any time of day or night, we feel the key-cards should give them access to the dorm.

Furthermore, the front door unlocking mechanism seems to be unreliable. On several occasions the door has refused to unlock both from outside with the card reader and from inside with the buzzer. Some residents fear that these difficulties could occur late at night or at other times when a person isn't there to push the door open. Recent power cuts on campus have also raised the question of the reliability of the system should the dormitory lose power. Although we realize that technology is often susceptible to trouble, we want the system operate as reliably as possible, and wonder if there aren't more steps which can be taken to guard against these troubles.

Diana S. Bancila '95

New House President

Eric R. Richard '95

New House Vice President

Jonathan M. Walton '94

New House Treasurer