Going for a late night Verdes run? Better grab your MIT ID. Starting Tuesday, the doors to W20 will require card access every night between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.. During those hours, visitors will only be able to enter through two doors: the front entrance near LaVerde’s and the back entrance by the ATMs.
According to the Campus Activities Complex (CAC) Event Planning Guide website, the 1 a.m. start time is meant to coincide with the mandatory ending time of all events at MIT. The CAC recently installed the card readers due to rising safety concerns in relation to the overnight presence of non-MIT people in the student center. The last trespass warning issued to a homeless person in the student center was on Oct. 18 at 5:13 a.m., according to the MIT police logs (online at http://web.mit.edu/cp/www/crimlog.htm).
MIT Facilities and the Security and Emergency Management Office (SEMO) installed the new doors and card access system for the CAC. Before the doors were replaced, the Student Center’s front doors were nearly 25 years old.
Lauren A. Merriman ’14 estimates that she visits the Student Center at least once a week between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
“I think the card readers should be pretty effective, and I feel like that’ll make the Student Center a safer place,” said Merriman. “A lot of times, I come into the Student Center and see people in the lounges who obviously aren’t affiliated with MIT, and I don’t want to work there because they’re sitting there.”
She added that the non-MIT people she sees can sometimes be annoyingly loud when she is looking for a quiet place to work. Others don’t feel as affected by the presence of non-MIT people late at night.
“To be honest, I’m not actually in the Student Center between 1 and 6 a.m. very often, so I don’t really think [the installation] will affect me at all,” said Natalie S. Dostie ’14.
Dostie does not expect the card readers to pose an inconvenience to students. “I feel like it’s not that hard to keep your card on you,” she said. “If you know that you can’t get in, then you should remember to bring your card.”
Still, Kelly Y. Wang ’15 has some doubts about the effectiveness of the card readers.
“I think it’s a good idea but it’s not going to be very effective because people [could] just follow someone else in, and some people forget their IDs,” said Wang.
The CAC Advisory Board discussed the idea of installing card readers last year. At the time, some members raised concerns about the potential downsides of installing card readers.
“Last spring, there was some initial concern for inconvenience that could be caused to student groups, especially if they had visitors or non-MIT members who might want access to student group space overnight,” explained Phillip J. Walsh, director of the CAC. “The student members of the Board discussed this and determined that safety should be the highest priority.”
Walsh continued, “In case access became necessary, a cell phone could be used to reach a student group and someone could then come down to the door to let them in. If there weren’t students around, then Board members questioned why someone would be in a student office to begin with.”
Walsh believes that the current security system of two card readers is sufficient for the time being. However, he said that he is open to the possibility of installing more card readers in the future if needed.