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Students Should Demand Justification of Card-Key System

I am writing in response to a quote by Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin in the recent article about the intruder at McCormick Hall ["McCormick Intruder Arrested after Trespassing for 20 Minutes," Sept. 23]. She apparently stated for the reporter that "[the number of trespassing] incidents that have occurred over the years is down since the MIT Card [including the card-key system] has been in use."

The introduction of the card-key system has been met with some controversy amongst students, perhaps because many students feel that it is being imposed upon us, without any analysis of whether it is the best of a number of different possible solutions. It is possible that Chief Glavin has access to some carefully-done studies which document that there is a causal relationship between the MIT Card and a drop in the number of trespassing incidents in undergraduate dormitories. However, to my knowledge, no such study has been widely propagated.

The introduction of the card-key system has in fact made it easier for me to enter other dormitories freely to visit friends. In my experience, students seem more inclined after the introduction of card keys to let people slip in after them, and even actively hold the door open for them. This may be because they, too, find it inconvenient have to get out their MIT Cards and are therefore inclined to help others avoid the increased amount of inconvenience. For Chief Glavin to have made mention of the MIT Card in a positive light in the story seems odd to me, especially when the installation of the card-key system probably helped, not hindered, this particular trespasser's entry into McCormick dormitory.

I recognize that my experience is limited in scope, and I may be misinterpreting the motives of students letting me enter their dormitories behind them. I wish to note that in this matter as well as in others, students should demand more forcefully to see real evidence that the card-key system is doing some good, rather than simply blindly believe in authority. In this matter, even if such evidence is presented, some students may feel that the incremental benefit in security is not worth the incremental hassle; furthermore, such evidence would have no effect on other legitimate concerns about installing a card-key system, e.g., privacy.

Ping Huang G