January 31, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 16°F


Full card key access begins in residences

All students living on campus will be able to use their ID cards to enter their residence halls beginning Tuesday, and after spring break, they will be required to do so.

The system, initially suggested in 2006 to improve residence hall security, replaces locks on all outer doors of residence halls but leaves key locks on room doors inside.

Residence hall doors are equipped with a system that reports the ID number of a student who is entering the hall to Public Safety and a system that alerts residents when the door has been propped open for too long. The system also tracks doors that have been forced open in order to prevent nonresidents from entering.

Since Nov. 3, students in Terrace 5, Rowland Hall, Emerson Hall, East Tower and Garden Apartment 25 have had the system on their residence doors for a pilot, which tested the system on every type of residence hall building for problems.

According to Zach Newswanger, assistant director of the Office of Residential Life, the project cost $1.75 million. A significant part of the cost was for upgrading doors, many of which would have otherwise needed to be replaced because of age.

Tyler Wagenet, campus card coordinator, said the installation and the pilot had no technical or software problems.

“We were just ready for anything that may have crept up, so with the proper amount of planning, proper time period, the pilot program we were able to avoid any major issues,” he said.

Newswanger said “probably almost 95 percent” of the students had exchanged their ID cards for ones that were compatible with the system. He said others who had not gotten new cards would need to do so by spring break, when all key locks will be replaced.

Newswanger said the key locks had been used as a “backup plan” in case problems arose with the card locks and even after they are replaced, emergency personnel can still use keys to enter the residence halls if the card system is disabled.

Sophomore Juliana Gonzalez said having to use her ID was easy to adapt to.

“Already, policy says you have to have your ID at all times, so it’s nothing new,” she said.

Ferguson said it was ultimately up to residents to act responsibly and keep their buildings safe.

“As you go home, you need to keep your doors locked and know who’s around your residence hall and who you’re letting in,” he said. “If you let someone in that you don’t know, you’re compromising the system.”