Residents of Baker, Masseh, McCormick, Next House, Simmons and the graduate dorms Tang Hall and Westgate will see changes to security this fall. As part of phase one of security updates, MIT Residental Life and Dining has hired professional desk attendants from security company AlliedBarton, instituted a visual verification for entering students and guests, and will install perimeter security cameras for the seven dorms.
According to Henry J. Humphreys, senior associate dean of residential life and dining, the professional desk attendants will be at desk from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. at night and take over all security responsibilities including tracking guests. Students will still work at desk to deliver services such as checking out equipment. “We did not take away the student employment opportunity,” said Humphreys.
According to Dean Humphreys, the hiring of outside security will have no impact on the existing Nightwatch program. “Nightwatch serves a slightly different function than the desk attendants. The desk attendant is a stationary post, whereas Nightwatch, in addition to sitting at the desk, have to make two rounds through the building. Plus, if there’s an emergency from inside the building, [the Nghtwatch] has to go respond to the emergency,” said Humphreys. “The desk attendant, if there’s an emergency in the building, would contact the house team [and/or] call MIT police, but they would never leave their post.”
Another security change is the replacement of a card scanner in the building’s vestibule with a card scanner at desk. When an MIT ID is scanned, the student’s face will appear on a monitor for visual comparison. If a student does not have an ID, they may enter the dorm after providing their name and being compared to the monitor. “To an MIT student, [entering the dorm] should still seem like a seamless process,” says Humphreys.
Each student in the five undergraduate dorms will have a guest list of up to 10 students. The housemaster and the house government are responsible for placing any additional restrictions, if any, on guests. Registered guests may enter the building upon ID swipe. After 12:30 a.m., all guests must be escorted by residents, similar to existing policy. Guests will not be required to track exits, but entrances and exits of contractors such as plumbers will be tracked.
After the completion of phase one, all five undergraduate dorms will have security cameras installed outside the building and in the lobby. Previously, only Simmons had installed cameras. Cameras will not face the hallways. The desk attendant will be able to view live footage of the monitors. Any recordings will be stored by MIT’s Security and Emergency Management Office within their existing policies.
The security changes are based on the 2010 security report authored by Professor Iain W. Stewart and Police Chief John DiFava after a robbery in Baker House in 2010.
Information about the security changes and a form for submitting comments will be available online by Aug. 19. “We’re looking at the policies … as individual pilots. … We are seeking comments from community members to bring back to the house leadership to fine tune those policies over time,” said Bauer.
It is currently unclear in which order security will be updated in other dorms. Phase two was described as including most East Campus buildings and graduate dorms, and is slated to occur in the summer of 2014. In phase three, all undergraduate and graduate dorms will be included, as well as the on-campus sororities Kappa Alpha Theta and Pi Beta Phi.
“We would not be putting desk attendant programs [in Green Hall and Pi Beta Phi], but we would be upgrading the card reader systems and the cameras,” said Humphreys.