The South Dakota Board of Regents approved about $190,000 during their meetings in Aberdeen last week to convert all interior floor doors in North Complex and Burgess/Norton Hall from key access to electronic card swipe access.
Todd Tucker, director of University Housing, said the $190,000 will also go toward increasing handicap accessibly on the first floors of North Complex and Burgess/Norton Hall, which includes additional handicap buttons and door operators.
This implementation marks phase two of the university’s long-term housing security and safety project, John Howe, associate dean of Student Services, said.
The first phase, electronic access on all residence hall exterior doors, was completed by the start of this school year.
The switch in North Complex and Burgess/Norton Hall should be completed by the start of spring semester, Tucker said.
Representatives from Student Services, Facilities Management, Planning and Construction, Finances, UPD and IT have all been a part of discussions regarding the plan, Howe said.
USD has been looking at other institutions who’ve gone to all card access, while keeping both campus safety and student cost in mind, he added.
The next part of the project could potentially result in all electronic access for each student’s room, Tucker said, though he added more research and cost analysis will need to be completed before this could take place.
“We would like things to be uniform,” he said.
Though an expensive project, Tucker said an all-wireless lock system would undoubtedly increase residence hall security.
The system would allow for approved USD officials to see exactly who and when someone entered a student’s room, which is a capability UPD utilizes with the exterior doors when conducting investigations now, Tucker said.
If implemented, the switch would also cut down on costs of lock changes because of lost keys, Tucker added.
Tucker and Howe said though increased housing security is part of national trend and not unique to Vermillion, safety concerns have taken place at USD in recent years which have become part of the conversation.
One such incident happened last fall, when a former student was charged with videotaping in the showers in Mickelson Hall, and later rape.
Though installing electronic locks on doors of all residence hall bathrooms was discussed at the time, Tucker said there was little interest from the student focus groups that USD Housing met with.
The “overwhelming majority” of the students that housing talked with thought the locks would be inconvenient, he said, adding that it “certainly” be considered in the future if there’s student interest in doing so.