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Card Readers for Peace of Mind

Card Readers For Peace of Mind

After reading Anders Hove's column ["Through A Locked Door Ambivalently," April 28, 1998] on the proposed closure of free access from Building 66 to Hayden Library and his arguments that the campus is becoming less open to the public, a group of friends and I immediately turned to the Police Log to see exactly how safe the campus actually is.

It turns out that there were a number of larcenies, incidents of trespassing, and assaults just in the past week. Being a graduate student and mainly confined to a small group of buildings, I cannot speak to the extent of how many buildings on campus are open to the general public, even during normal hours, but there should be some buildings that are kept out of the mainstream of students and visitors.

Over the past few years that I have been working in Building 18, there have been a number of thefts, costing the occupants in this "secure" building a great deal of suffering. It can be very disturbing working late at nights or on the weekends and seeing unfamiliar people wandering through the hallways, or dancing in the main lobby.

There really is no reason to have this building open to the general public. There are no classrooms in it, only research laboratories and some offices. If a student wants to see a professor, he or she should already have a MIT card anyway, so there shouldn't be any inconvenience in opening to door. Besides, the way it is right now, it really isn't much of a challenge to get into the building from Building 66.

In fact, instead of getting rid of the card reader, card readers should be installed at each entry point into the building. Some people might call this a bit extreme, but I call it peace of mind. This argument has been going on in the Chemistry Department for a lot longer than I have been here, and only now, due to some high priced thefts, is any change being implemented.

Installation of the card readers is a very good idea for the primarily lab-only buildings where few of the undergraduate population (and fewer unaffiliated individuals) would go. Having the buildings secured would most likely result in a rapid decrease in the number of thefts from the out-of-the-way places on campus. For those who would complain about it being unfair or a hassle to carry around the MIT Card, I don't see how it differs from carrying a driver's license or ATM card. It's a responsibility thing. On this point I fail to see Hove's logic in equating the MIT Card with the Gestapo and asking for papers, unless he is stating the MIT is actually a police state.

It's too bad that it will take something as tragic as a student being assaulted, raped, or killed in a supposedly "secure" building to prod the administration into making this campus a safer place to work and learn.

Richard P. Kingsborough G