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New dorm security policies reflect 2012 report

Five undergraduate residences (Baker House, Maseeh Hall, McCormick Hall, Next House, Simmons Hall) and two graduate residences (Tang Hall and Westgate Apartments) received enhanced security systems, video monitoring, and access systems this summer.

The main entrances of the five undergraduate residence halls are now locked from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. All residents, including all individuals in a group, must tap their ID on the card reader in order to enter and will be facially identified by security guards. Some doors have been converted to exit-only access.

Under the discretion of the dorm security pilot program, guests need to sign in and be escorted by their hosts throughout their time in the residence. McCormick, Next, and Simmons allow residents to place up to ten, three, and ten MIT students on their guest lists, respectively. Guest list visitors may enter without an escort between 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. daily, whereas other visitors have to meet their host at the front desk before entering.

These security upgrades resulted from the recommendations of the Residential Hall Security Review Committee.

The committee was formed in December 2011 by Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo and was composed of undergraduate and graduate students, housemasters, MIT Police, Security and Emergency Management Office (SEMO), and Residential Life and Dining (RLD) staff.

Building on the 2008 Clay Report on Residential Security, the Residential Hall Security Review Committee released its report in March 2012. Their recommendations suggested each residence hall should have its own tailored security program due to the diversity of the student body and building structures. Some aspects of the security upgrades are indeed dorm-specific, such as guest list access.

Its general recommendations included improved security communications, updated guest list policies, employment of professional security staff, Institute-wide security training, enhancement of software and card access system, and deployment of security cameras. The new security system reflects many Committee recommendations, but differs in some areas.

Front desks are now staffed by professional attendants from security company AlliedBarton in addition to student workers, who handle non-security tasks. This differs from the report, which recommended security training for all desk staff. Nightwatch will continue to provide overnight security. More security cameras have been installed on the exterior doors. Video information, as well as the card tracking information, is stored for 14 days by the SEMO and may be used by the MIT Police for criminal investigation with a written request to the SEMO. The report also recommended all surveillance cameras on campus meet the SEMO’s existing standard.

According to the Residential Life and Dining website about the security changes, all other residence halls should expect similar security upgrades in either the 2014–2015 or 2015–2016 academic years.

Residents in the five undergraduate dorms that underwent the dorm security pilot system will be invited to comment through a mid-term survey this November. They can also send comments or questions to dormsecurity@mit.edu.

—Shirley Chen