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Intruder Arrests Show Failure of MIT Card

Intruder Arrests Show Failure of MITCard

The recent arrest of an intruder in Baker House this past Tuesday illustrates the growing crime problem on campus. In a crime alert bulletin issued on May 1, Sergeant Cheryl N. deJong-Vossmer of the MIT Campus Police noted that, "The 1995 MIT Campus Police Annual Report statistics for larcenies from Living Groups show an increase of 173 percent compared to 1994. This accounts for 183 thefts valued at $63,039."

The intruder, who was known to the CPs for committing numerous larcenies on campus, easily gained entry to Baker and other buildings by simply following someone through the entrance. The crime bulletin strongly emphasized, "Never allow someone you don't know to follow you into your living group as you enter with your MIT Card." Many students, however, ignore this often repeated advice for the simple reason that they know how inconvenient the card is. The many problems with the card - including the need to remember to carry it at all times, the risk involved with taking out your wallet to retrieve the card in unsafe areas, the poor design of the card itself, the difficulty experienced by non-MIT-affiliated friends in visiting MIT students and activities - have all been elaborated in detail many times. These problems have not been adequately addressed by the MIT Card Office.

The MIT Card is a failure. The MIT administration needs to recognize that the substantial increase in larcenies on campus is directly related to the card. The card is certainly not entirely responsible for increasing crime on campus, but it does give many more opportunities to criminals than the old key system. MIT should abandon its current card program and seriously re-evaluate how to manage security on campus.

Richard J. Barbalace '96